August 29, 2016

Seven Strategies for Organizing Effective Investor Awareness Programs (IAP)

Sadique Neelgund

One of the best ways for a financial advisor to growhis/her practice is through conducting InvestorAwareness Programs (IAP). Unlike the traditional model of meeting prospective clients individually and spending 30-60 minutes making them aware about financial planning, importance of good money management and why one should hire a professional; an advisor through IAPs gets to address a group of investors (typically 30-50 people) in one go. “One to Many” way of communication is not only very cost effective but also a great way to build your credibility, firm’s brand awareness and position yourself as a domain expert.

At Network FP, through our Financial Wellbeing Camps initiative, we have developed an end-to-end support platform for Financial Planners & Advisors to organize their IAPs. 200+ IAPs have been organized by more than 50+ empaneled advisors across India in the last 1 year. Based on our experience, here are the top 9 tips and strategies which I think if implemented by advisors can help them conduct super successful Investor Awareness Programs.

1) Tap the Corporate and Salaried Class

Advisors can conduct IAPs in 4 different types of organizations namely 1) Corporates for their employees 2) Associations for their Members 3) Housing Societies for their Residents 4) Open House Session by inviting your contacts, referrals and by promotions. Out of all 4, getting IAP opportunities in corporates tend to be easier and also more effective. HR department and management of companies have a responsibility of organizing employee welfare activities. An IAP fits in very well into their objective. The only challenge when trying for a corporate opportunity is to assure decision makers about credibility, authenticity and impact of the program content and the speaker.

2) Take Help from Your Existing Clients

Your clients are your true brand ambassadors. They have experienced your advice, your services and know the importance of proper financial planning. The best way to get a corporate opportunity is through your clients who are part of mid/senior level management of a company. Approach your clients to help you connect with their HR / Admin team who is in-charge of employee welfare activities. An endorsement from your clients goes a long way in ensuring your proposal to conduct an IAP is considered and pushed forward.

3) Engage Your Audience

Audience don’t enjoy a typical PPT presentation. The subject itself is boring anyway. Use a PPT to help you give a structure and flow to the session. However, the speaker should make good use of Games/Puzzles, Videos, Live Calculators, Stories, Case Studies, Q&As etc. to make the program livelier and interactive.

4) Audience want takeaways, not gyaan

Many of IAP programs content is filled with lot of charts, graphs, definitions, list of benefits / advantages etc. This knowledge or gyaan is something audience do not connect to. It’s boring for them. People at the end of 45-90-minute session want some takeaways on which they can take action. Focus your program flow on some 3 key action points like buying term insurance, starting SIPs, goal based investments etc. Let the audience be able to develop their to-do list soon after the camp is over. Many of them will approach you for help.

5) Offer Something for Free

After the first touchpoint during the IAP session, advisors have to figure out a way to create a second touchpoint to engage the audience and potential clients. An IAP helps you position yourself as an expert, helps you to gain trust and open up the possibility of a future dialogue. Now is the right time to let the potential clients experience your expertise / services on a one-to-one basis. Offer some kind of 30-minute free no-obligation meeting offering either a basic financial plan or financial health checkup or risk profiling or something like an existing portfolio review. These sessions should be ideally held within one week after the program at employee office premises. HR people are open to this idea as its of help to their employees.

6) Take help and support from AMCs

After SEBI mandated AMCs to spend 2 basis points on investor awareness activities, many of the AMCs have come out with some really good IAP tools and materials. AMCs are more than happy to support IFAs by providing them with these materials without any business obligations. For example ICICI Prudential’s Health & Wealth Guide and Snake & Ladders Game, IDFC has One Idiot movie, T Puzzle and now SIP Pen, Axis MF has Global Education Guide, Lifecycle based Guides and Healthcare Guide, Birla MF has Janogeto Manoge Guide, Self-Discovery Booklet. You can also take help of AMCs to support costs related to venue, refreshments, projector/screen etc if any.

7) Help People get Started, even if in a Small Way

After the IAP is successfully, you will see many of the participants willing to get started. Many of them want to start small say with INR 2000-5000-10000 SIPs in Mutual Funds. They want to get a taste of mutual funds before committing to the idea fully, the way they do with FDs, gold and property. Advisors may find this kind of retail clients very small to take on. But these are the clients who will keep larger wallet share in future and also whose investible surplus will keep growing. So find a way to onboard them and get them into your system. If the remuneration is not good enough from commission, figure out a way to charge a small fee to compensate for your time and efforts. But get them started, don’t leave the participants “high and dry” after an IAP program.

Success with IAPs comes only with proper preparation, consistent efforts and good strategies. Advisors have to commit to conducting 4-5 IAPs before starting to see real benefits to their practice. Start with one and try to do at least 1 IAP every quarter to see the magic of this strategy in growing your financial advisory practice.

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