What if YOU were financial planning's brand manager?

Brand ‘financial planning’ is in big trouble. A history of well-publicised dodgy dealings, industry players intent on pushing their own agendas, political indecision, and a polarised consumer population that's either all riled up or couldn't care less.


Mr T - I pity your brand

Welcome to the wonderful world of financial planning.

The land of hopes and dreams...

And, industry division, public damning, and a bunch of people that are going to scream if they hear the word FOFA again.

WARNING: If you're not up for a rant (with a call to arms), look away now.

If financial planning had a brand manager, they would be fired

Wikipedia says, "brand management is a communication function that includes analysis and planning on how that brand is positioned in the market, which target public the brand is targeted at, and maintaining a desired reputation of the brand. Developing a good relationship with target publics is essential for brand management." (emphasis - mine; grammatical horrors - Wikipedia's)

So what's the financial planning brand?

The brand that goes beyond the four walls of the business you are part of, and extends into the community as a whole.

The collective financial planning brand.

What are the first three words that come to mind when you think of "financial planning"?

What are the first three words that come to mind when your clients think of "financial planning"?

And what are the first three words that come to mind when the general public think of "financial planning"?

Do you get warm fuzzies or cold pricklies?

I asked this question earlier this week, and the answer was prefaced with, "for the good ones...".

Tells a story doesn't it?

And it isn't so good.

Everyone's talking about it

This week, four different things landed in my inbox or earbuds, that screamed, "It's time to do something".

1. First was a great two part blog post by Blake Fitzgerald, an adviser at ANZ. It really tries to bust some myths about what financial planners do, and explain the outcomes they can deliver.

It opens with this powerful statement and image...

Blake - how do financial planners help their clients

2. Second was a podcast episode from Scott Stratten and Alison Kramar from Unmarketing. They were talking about franchising, and how one dodgy store has the potential to impact the entire brand. One damaging event. One stupid comment. One thoughtless tweet.

That lowest franchise...is the brand.
— Scott Stratten

For the Aussie financial planning brand, that includes debacles like Storm and dodgy goings on at the CBA, that get a lot of media attention.

3. Third was an article from the Value Alliance about the late Gwen Fletcher's quest to educate the media and public about the value of advice.

4. And fourth was an article from Tania Milnes, General Manager of Mortgage Choice Financial Planning, citing internal research that found two thirds of Australians have no intention of seeking financial advice in the next 12 months.

These statistics make one very clear point: the majority of Australians do not see benefit in seeing a financial adviser because they do not understand what we do.
— Tania Milnes

So what are we going to do about it?

We can say, "oh we'll just continue to help our clients....that should be enough". Then wait 20 years and hope perceptions will change.

Or, we can get proactive and try to do something about it now.

Not one practice holding a seminar at the local community centre, and another getting involved in some pro-bono work.

That stuff is awesome, but I'm talking about a focused, collective effort, from every (okay, "lots") of practices all over the country.

To help get the financial planning brand back on track.

A strategy that is about help, not hype.

A single effort.

A single goal.

The facts.

The outcomes.

And not a sniff of the word FOFA.

It's not about trying to attract new clients.

It's about creating awareness and changing perceptions.

What if YOU were the manager for brand "financial planning"?

So if you were the boss of brand "financial planning", what would you do?

You're in the thick of it every day.

You see and hear the misconceptions people have about what you do.

Let's bust those myths.

Please add your ideas and support in the comments.

Of course there's no value in ideas alone. It's all about execution.

But let's start doing something.

Go on....what would YOU do??