Creating Client Personas for Financial Advisors

Everyone is not your customer – Seth Godin

What are Client Personas?

A client persona (also called a customer persona, buyer persona, marketing persona, or avatar) is a profile of an ideal customer of a key segment of your audience.

In other words, it represents your ideal client, or at least one of them.

Why Client Personas are Critical for Financial Advisors

The more you know about your clients, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions across critical business fronts, including lead generation, customer appreciation activities, advertising, and more.

The client persona is an idea that gets your entire team on the same page and helps your marketing programs stay on track.

Further, as you expand your business, your client personas will serve as valuable learning material for new hires to ensure they fully understand your client’s goals and motivations.

The development process involves analyzing existing clients, client data and making educated guesses when data is unavailable.

If you already have a substantial number of clients, you can collect data from your experience with them, and through one-on-one meetings.

It could also be worth interviewing people who weren’t so happy with your service to get a complete perspective.

Client Personas Play an Important Role in a Successful SEO Campaign

From an SEO perspective, a client persona is the beginning of a successful SEO campaign. It helps you identify who are writing content for and allows you to focus in on their detail questions and the issues they are facing.

6 Steps to Help Financial Advisors Create Client Personas

Let’s assume your financial advisor practice has 3 core personas: executives planning for retirement, retirees already drawing from investments, and Centers of Influence who refer new clients to you.

The following seven steps detail the key things you need to create a buyer persona for the first persona, executives planning for retirement.

1. Give Your Buyer Personas a Name and a Headshot

Client Persona for Financial Advisors Executive Eleanor

As your personas take shape, give them a name and even a headshot. You might think it’s corny, but the name and picture bring the persona to life, especially for others on your team not involved in the development process. Use alliteration when naming your personas . . . it makes them more memorable.

Example: Executive Eleanor

2. The Bare Essentials

Begin by establishing a broad-brushed picture of your customers.

  • Are they male or female? Married or single?
  • Young or old?
  • High net worth or middle class?
  • Urban, suburban or rural?
  • University or high school graduates?
  • Where are they now in their financial journey?

Here are the bare essentials for our example, Executive Eleanor:

  • Saving for retirement, and kids’ education
  • Senior executive (or on the fast track)
  • Busy with career and family activities
  • Mostly female; 95% are married
    Children aged 5 and up
  • Household income between $125k and $250k
  • Lives in an urban center

3. What are your Client’s Goals

What are Eleanor’s goals when shopping for a financial advisor? Is she most interested in working with someone who can handle all aspects of her finances? Or does she want a specialist to focus only on retirement planning and investing?

Since she’s a busy executive, Eleanor is looking for advice on all aspects of her finances, including life insurance, wills and powers of attorney, education savings plans, and estate planning.

She also needs a realistic plan so she stops worrying about money, including a professional who will adapt her financial plans as her children get older and she and her partner approach retirement.

4. Common Objections

What are the most common objections your personas might make about your service?

Executive Eleanor:

  • I’m looking for a financial planner who can provide me with a variety of investment vehicles—not just mutual funds
  • My assets aren’t large enough for an experienced advisor
  • I’ve resisted meeting with a financial planner since they’re known for being pushy
  • A commission payment structure is a conflict of interest—I prefer fee-based

5. Information Sources

It’s helpful to understand where your personas obtain information about personal finances. You may want to incorporate these sources into a paid media plan or simply use the information as a way to gauge your client’s level of sophistication when it comes to investing.

Example: Eleanor regularly reads the Wall Street Journal, watches CNN and listens to her local radio news station on her daily commute.

6. Social Media Hang Outs

Where do your personas hang out on social media? Are they using Facebook, LinkedIn, or some other platform?

In the 30-60+ age demographic, Youtube was  most popular social network in 2019 according to research conducted by Our World Data:

bar chart showing social media network used by age in the US

However, as you look into the report, we see that overall, women prefer Instagram.

Example: Eleanor uses LinkedIn for business and Instagram to keep in touch with friends and family.

Create a More Detailed Client Persona

If you want to develop an even more specific Client Avatar, John Lee Dumas, host of Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast, and author of The Common Path to Uncommon Success, recommends asking these questions of your avatar:

  1. What is their age?
  2. Male or female?
  3. Married, single, divorced, widowed?
  4. Kids?
  5. Working? If yes, what career?
  6. Do they commute to work? If yes, how long is their commute?
  7. Do they like their job?
  8. What are their passions?
  9. What are their hobbies?
  10. What do they do in their free time?
  11. What are their dislikes?
  12. What are the skills they’ve acquired over time?
  13. What value can they bring to the world?
  14. What are their life goals, ambitions, hopes and dreams?
  15. What does a perfect day in their life look like?
  16. What type of content do they consume? How often?
  17. What is their biggest struggle in life right now?
  18. What is the solution they are looking for?

He follows this with recommending your write a 500 word biography on your ideal client.

Client Personas Combine Both Science and Art

Creating client personas combines both art and science; it definitely takes practice to master this aspect of the marketing mix.

Despite being fictitious, buyer personas are useful tools that help financial advisors be more specific, targeted, and concrete in their messaging. Marketing strategies and tactics developed without the benefit of buyer personas are likely to be generic.

And a lot less likely to encourage engagement.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness. The most recent update was 11/25/22

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