How to overcome Web-fright

Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:08pm EDT
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By Jennifer Hoyt Cummings

(Reuters) - For years, financial adviser Robert Douglass was a bit embarrassed when he heard this common question from prospective clients: What's your website?

Douglass, 55, didn't have a site for his firm, Colorado-based Douglass Financial Group, because he was a techno-phobe who assumed setting one up would take a lot of time and money.

Things changed when he hired a young partner, Lucas Cummings, 28, who found out they could have a site running in a few weeks for $65 a month. Their site launched on February 15.

"It's a lot less pain to get it going and set up than one might think," Douglass said.

In an age when people often turn to the Internet before they even try a new restaurant, many see checking out prospective financial advisers online as a given. A Fidelity survey released in 2011 found that 44 percent of millionaires use Internet research to help select a financial adviser.

While some advisers are capitalizing on this by becoming social media mavens, many others don't even have a website. Some share Douglass's fear of the unknown, while others aren't in growth mode and think they don't need the online referrals. Others don't want the compliance headaches a site could create.

These hold-outs should bear in mind that one of the most unsettling things a prospective client can find about an adviser online is nothing at all, especially in the wake of recent Ponzi schemes. The good news for these offline advisers is that creating a website is easier and less costly than they likely expect.

THE COSTS   Continued...