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How the Ultra-Wealthy Find Advisors

This article first appeared in Advisor Perspectives on September 9th, 2020, and can be found here

High- and ultra-high-net-worth individuals make up a minute percentage of the population – yet there are more and more in the United States attaining HNW status.

If you target them successfully, the ultra-wealthy are an extremely valuable client base; their needs are unique and require advanced financial management. Among high-net-worth individuals, 81% use a financial advisor, and that number leaps to 88% for the ultra-high-net-worth.

stats how many high net-worth individuals use financial advisors

That raises the critical question: How do the ultra-wealthy find financial advisors? What are they looking for, and how can your firm use that knowledge to cater to this hyper-specific audience?

The digital referral shift

A study by Oeschli surveyed affluent investors to discover how they go about searching for a financial advisor.

Stats how do affluent find a financial advisor?

These are some important trends:

  • 43% of affluent investors under 45 simply use an online search; and
  • Over generations, online search has increased (denoted by the highlighted portion of the graph) and all other strategies have decreased.

This is part of what I call the digital referral shift. Digital marketing is rapidly becoming the go-to way of getting referrals. To target HNW individuals develop your firm’s digital presence.

Using these strategies will not only make your digital presence stronger but more HNW-friendly:

1. Rank higher on Google

When Oeschli’s research says “search online,” it’s actually talking about a simple Google search. For example, searching “financial advisor for high net worth in Sacramento,” or “financial advisor near me.” If your firm’s website isn’t up-to-date and optimized for search engines, you’re not going to rank highly in these searches.

Example of high-ranking on Google.

To not just get on that first page of results but rank highly on it, think from the point of view of HNW investors. What keywords would they look for? What language do they use?

For instance, the majority of HNW investors prioritize investment management in their advisor search. Highlight investment management language in your website copy if this is your target audience.

1. Create and promote original content

HNW investors are looking for experts – 87% of affluent investors rank “trustworthiness” as being of the utmost importance when it comes to a financial advisor. Clients with complex finances need to be confident that the advisor they choose can be trusted with their money.

Showing that you’re well-equipped to juggle the issues HNW investors face is the first step of qualifying yourself as trustworthy. This is why it’s important to create original thought leadership pieces that resonate with the audience you serve.

original content example for financial advisors

Consider this blog from Twenty Over Ten client Boyd Wealth Management, a firm serving HNW investors. The blog categories themselves are extremely tailored to HNW clientele – topics such as business exit and succession, market commentary and personal finances for high income families.

These are the financial concerns wealthy clients face. Be proactive by establishing yourself as a thought leader and creating original content while, in addition, promoting it on social media.

1. Make yourself credible

Believe it or not, credibility encompasses more than just your certifications or degrees. Both of these components factor into your firm’s reputability, but there are two things just as important.

Google reviews

Circling back to #1, a Google search carries the potential of your Google My Business listing showing up (if you’re not utilizing Google My Business, this article will walk you through the whole process). Along with that listing comes Google reviews.

Google reviews example for WealthKeel LLC

By default, people will initially trust other consumers more than the business itself. Having positive Google reviews, such as WealthKeel LLC does here, is a great way to prove the trustworthiness and credibility of your business. And don’t worry, as long as you don’t ask for reviews in writing, like/comment on reviews or republish the reviewsyou’ll remain compliant.


Quality website design

Yes – website design does impact your credibility. Targeting a high-net-worth demographic online requires modernized design.

stats on quality web design

Research has proven HNWIs to be extremely tech-savvy, incorporating digital devices into their everyday routine. Also, an overwhelming amount use mobile devices, which means your website should be 100% optimized for mobile. Sorensen Wealth Management is a great example of a mobile-friendly website targeting HNWIs.

Sorenson Wealth Management Homepage

Final thoughts

My advice applies regardless of your target client. Even retirees, perhaps one of the least tech-friendly generations, are flocking to platforms such as Facebook and familiarizing themselves with the internet. High- and ultra-high-net-worth clients, in particular, are well-versed in technology and expect wealth management professionals to be the same.

Advisory firms no longer have to depend on personal recommendations– and while this requires extra effort and resources on your end, you can attract ultra-wealthy clients by ramping up your digital presence.