If you’re a financial planner or adviser looking to marketing your business to UK expats, you face big opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, your target audience holds the potential for considerable profit. Many British people living abroad in places like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the Far East can hold very high incomes, and your competition from other financial advice firms is likely to be low compared to a business competing within a British city such as Manchester.
On the other hand, your target audience is also typically harder to reach with your marketing. You are likely to be much more reliant on digital channels to generate brand interest and engagement, since it’s hard to knock on the doors of expats living in multiple countries and regions. Moreover, your UK expat audience is likely to be very wary. In countries such as the UAE, for instance, financial advisers do not have the best reputation due to the lower regulatory standards (although in 2020 this is changing). As a result, you will likely need your marketing to work extra-hard to gain prospects’ trust before they will feel comfortable approaching you to make an enquiry, or book a meeting.
Fortunately, here at MarketingAdviser we have years of experience helping international financial planners to grow their expat client base. In this short guide, we’ll be sharing some thoughts on how you might be able to improve your own strategy. We hope you find this content helpful and invite you to book a free consultation if you’d like to discuss your own marketing strategy with us.
Get the branding right
Put yourself in the shoes of your expat target audience. Imagine you are a successful headteacher at a prestigious British international school in the Far East, for instance, and you need help with your pension. You are thinking about moving home to the UK soon, and want to ensure you handle your assets in a safe, tax-efficient manner. You’ve met different “financial advisers” over your 10-year career overseas, and whilst you know you need professional help most of these firms have appeared dubious or non-specialist in relation to your distinct financial planning needs.
This is where financial branding is key. Your presentation and perception play a huge role in whether or not a wealthy British expat will choose to approach your firm once they’ve seen it. Here, we encourage you to take a step back and ask yourself some honest questions:
- Do my logo, colour scheme and brand imagery look like they were cobbled together years ago by an underpaid college student? Or, do they look professional and unique, conveying a sense of high quality and trustworthiness?
- Is my website slow, difficult to navigate or just plain old? Does it respond well to the mobile devices which my expat target audience are likely to view it on?
- Does my website copy, blog and social media content show that I specialise in the needs of UK expats in my target region/country? Or, do I look just like any UK-based financial planner?
- Does my website, social media and overall online presence make good use of trut-building assets such as expat client reviews, testimonials and industry awards? If you’re accountable to reputable regulatory structures in different parts of the world, do you show that clearly?
Get the targeting right
The above components are crucial to address before investing heavily in your marketing. Without them, you will be casting your line into the water, but far fewer fish are likely to bite out of suspicion.
Assuming these assets are in place, however, you need to establish where your expat audience find their news, spent their time and look for answers to common financial planning problems. Many expats are likely to ask fellow expat colleagues, friends or peers if they know any decent financial planners who specalise in their situation. These people, along with almost everyone else, are then also likely to look online for a solution. Google will be a popular tool in many places, for instance. Others will turn to social media forums and put out questions to members of expat groups for recommendations.
Wherever your audience are likely to be found looking for your services, you need to develop a strong marketing strategy which positions you in front of them. For instance, is there a Facebook expat group which you could join? If not, could you start one and invite expats to it? In either case, you will need a compelling brand presence on this social media platform if you want people to engage with you.
Get the workflow right
You have your branding correct, and you know where to find your expat target market. To take the fishing anology again, you know where the fish are and how to get them to bite. Once they do, however, what happens next? What is the process for “on-boarding” them, nurturing them to become a client?
Here, again, you need to think about your audience’s needs. Will they be prepared to travel to another country to meet you in person for a free initial consultation? Possibly, but in most cases, the answer will likely be a “no”. You might need to find a good video-based solution, therefore, to build up that initial rapport and trust with the client once they get in touch with you.
Think carefully about the sales journey you want your expat audience to take with you. Do you have well-presented client folders, brochures and printed collateral which you can post to them, for instance, to help educate them about what your investment planning service entails? How can you sensitively address their fears and concerns about working with a financial adviser?
Once they become a client, moreover, what processes can you put in place to help ensure your new client refers you to others? Remember, they are likely to know other wealthy expats, and personal referrals will always be an important source of new business for financial advisers – including international ones.