In this webinar, we’ll review the top website platforms for advisors and take a live tour of each platform.
I’ll answer your questions including:
1 What are the top website platforms for advisors?
2 What should I look for in a website?
3 What are the pros and cons of the top platforms?
4 How does their pricing compare?
5 Which website is right for me?
Sign up today and receive a $100 gift at the end of the webinar!
Meet Your Webinar Host
Claire Akin, MBA
Claire Akin runs Indigo Marketing Agency a full-service marketing firm serving top independent financial advisors.
She works closely with several of Barron’s Top 100 Financial Advisors to grow their AUM using digital marketing.
Read The Transcription Below
Hi, I’m Claire Akin with Indigo Marketing Agency. Thank you for joining me for today’s webinar, The Best Websites For Financial Advisors. Now this is a question that I get a lot from advisors of, which websites should I use? And it really depends on a lot of different factors like what type of designs do you like? How flexible do you want your website to be? What’s your budget? What’s your compliance relationship? And do you want to do it yourself or do you want to outsource it to a pro? And so today I’m going to walk you through the pros and cons of the best website platforms for advisors and we’ll talk about what type of advisor would choose which type of website. We’ll go through some of the designs and we’ll actually log in to the dashboards. You can see what it looks like and how easy they really are to use. Lastly, we’ll talk about customer service and pricing to help you make an educated decision about the best website for you. Stick around to the end of the webinar because I’m giving you a free $100 gift for your next website. Thanks and let’s get started.
Now before we go right into the websites, let me give you a little bit about my background. So I’m a former investment advisor representative with LPL Financial. My dad has been in the business 36 years and so that’s how I got into the business and became an advisor. I have a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in marketing, and I worked with the top website provider for financial advisors called FMG Suite. And then I left to start my own company, Indigo Marketing Agency where I help top advisors with their digital marketing. I wrote the book, The LinkedIn Guide for Financial Advisors, which is available on Amazon and the LinkedIn Course for Financial Advisors, which is an online video course that you can take to learn how top advisors are using LinkedIn to get new clients.
So today we’re going to cover a lot. We’re going to talk about which website platforms are available to advisors. We’re going to talk about the different designs available, the functionality, how easy these sites are or are not to use, the customer service available, and pricing because of course your budget is important and we’ll take a tour of the dashboards of the best platforms because before you buy a website, oftentimes you don’t get to see what it looks like when you log in and how easy or difficult it is to make changes. So I’ll show you kind of a behind the scenes look into the dashboards. And make sure you stick around till the end of the presentation because I’m going to give you $100 off your first website depending on what website you’d like to give, I’ll give you $100 off. So stick around until the end.
So let’s talk about the difference that 25 years makes. So the bottom picture here on the right is me with my dad. He’s a great investment advisor. I think he’s the seventh advisor with LPL Financial, the seventh longest tenured. So he was number seven back in the late 70s, early 80s when he started with them. And the bottom picture is me when I was five at the school play. And the top picture is me when I was 30 on my wedding day. So, you can see that a lot has changed. I got a little taller and he got a little bit grayer, but 25 years makes a lot of difference and what else has changed in 25 years? Well, this is a graphic representation of what the internet would look like if you mapped it out. The internet has changed everything in the past 25 years. In particularly, it’s changed marketing and how we market our businesses, whether financial advisory services or otherwise. So it’s really important to adapt your marketing to the internet because it’s changed everything about how we live our lives.
So let’s talk about what to look for in a website. Now this picture says it all. Instead of being at a computer most of the day, people are accessing the internet through their phones and so that’s one of the most important things to look for in a website. So that’s where we’ll start. Mobile responsiveness is really important in your website and that means it displays perfectly on a mobile device. Now mobile friendly is a term that used to be used a lot in web design and that was that your website would display as its desktop version, so you could read it on a mobile device, but it didn’t actually change its orientation and be responsive depending on which mobile device somebody is coming to your site through. And so mobile friendly is kind of out, it’s outdated, it’s kind of passe.
So mobile friendly just isn’t good enough anymore, we want our sites to be mobile responsive and that means that they change the orientation of how they’re displayed based on what device the user is using. So we want it to look great on every device. So it looks different on the desktop versus a phone versus a tablet. And so make sure whichever website that you get is mobile responsive.
And the next thing we want on a website is flexibility. So you may recognize this type of website. This is an Emerald site. Now, Emerald is kind of the 600 pound gorilla in the advisor website space and they have thousands and thousands of advisors using their website platform. If you are with a wirehouse or if you’re an agent with a place like New York Life, you’re required to use Emerald. The problem is that they’re not flexible at all and they’re basically like online business cards. Now it’s better than having nothing, but for today’s independent advisor, you’re going to want a lot more flexibility in your design, your template, and the functionality of your site.
The next thing that’s really important is ease of use. Now I’m not saying that you’re going to be updating the code on your website or doing a lot of web design yourself, but you should be able to make some basic changes to your website in a pinch. And so I want you to be able to log in and make some changes, say to the homepage or add a blog post or add a team member. And so it’s important that your site be sort of easy to use. Most advisors don’t spend a lot of time updating their own websites, but I think that it’s a consideration that we should factor in.
So let’s talk about the different components of your website, just in case you don’t know anything about websites, there’s three different components. So first is your domain. So that’s your www.yourbusinessname.com and that’s a completely separate part of your website. So if you already own your domain, that’s great and you can keep it, you’ve probably purchased it through GoDaddy or through a different domain registrar and so that’s kind of the first component of your website. The second component is the hosting and that’s kind of the computer horsepower behind your site residing on the internet. And so just like a 401k plan, we can have our website hosting and our website be bundled or unbundled and it depends what type of website that you buy.
If you buy a website from say, FMG suite or Advisor Websites, you’re going to have bundled hosting with your website. So the fee that you pay, that company is going to cover your hosting. But if you buy a WordPress site, you’re going to buy your hosting separately. And so it all functions the same, it’s just important to know that there’s three parts. Your domain, your hosting, and your website, which is your actual, the pictures, the copy, the text on your site. And so those can be purchased together or separately.
So here’s a list of some of that website options for advisors. So as I mentioned before, Emerald Connect is the biggest player and most advisors started out several years ago with an Emerald website. There’s also Heresay, there’s Forefield, there’s AdvisorWebsites, AdvisorFlex, Smarsh Websites, FMG Suite, WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, AltaStreet, and TwentyOverTen. And so this isn’t an exhaustive list, there’s definitely other options, but these are the most popular sites that I see and so I just want you to be aware of them. Of these sites, I’ve used every single one of these sites and I’ve picked out my favorite three that we’re going to really evaluate today. There’s severe limitations with some of these websites, so I wouldn’t even consider them. And so let’s talk about the top three that I would really recommend.
And I chose these three based on the following evaluation criteria. So functionality, design, ease of use, customer service, and pricing. So I want to make sure that whatever website you get meets these five basic criteria. So let’s talk about what I mean by ease of use, I want you to at least be able to do these four things on your website. So change the copy on your homepage. So say you want to add a paragraph about a new service on your homepage or change a typo on your homepage, that’s pretty basic. I want you to be able to accomplish that easily. You should be able to add a blog post. You should be blogging on a regular basis to share information about your team or your firm and so it’s important to be able to upload a blog post to your site. And edit or add a team member, if you hire somebody or a new advisor joins your team, we want to be able to add them quickly to your site. And adding an event. If you’re having a seminar or a webinar, we want to make it really easy to add an event and allow people to register for your event on your website.
So here are the top three websites for advisors that I recommend. The first is AdvisorWebsites, the second is FMG Suite, and the third is WordPress. And I’ll talk you through exactly why I chose these as my top recommendations and the pros and cons of each. So, let’s talk about AdvisorWebsites. Now, AdvisorWebsites is actually a Canadian company and they’re based in Vancouver, but they make well-designed, nice looking websites that are relatively easy to use and they’re kind of our budget performer. So if you want a low budget site in a hurry, they’re your best bet. And I’ll walk you through one of the sites that my clients use.
So this is an AdvisorWebsite website. You can see the different hero rotator images here and they have some cool functionality. They have different areas of the homepage. You can schedule a meeting with them. Here, you can see the advisors in their office with buttons to schedule a meeting. They have a blog. That looks great, you can take a look at their different social media profiles here and contact them. Here you can see their latest blog posts. And so this is an AdvisorWebsites basic example, and you can see their services, about us, their blog, the different events that they’re having. They have some cool built in event functionality so people can register for an event on your website, which is really important. And they allow for all of the basic functionality that you would want from a lead generation perspective. People can tell a friend, they can sign up to receive blog posts, they can schedule a meeting. And so we have all of our bases covered here with Advisor Websites.
Let’s take a look at what it looks like in the dashboard. And so here is the AdvisorWebsite dashboard when you log on. You can see the leads generated in the past year, which is cool. And this is how people sign up for your newsletter or request an appointment or ask a question. And so you can see the visitors in the past seven days. So the dashboard gives you a broad overview of the activity on your site. Let’s talk about what it looks like to publish a blog post. So, what you would do is you’d click over to content and then you would go to blog posts and add a new blog post. And so it’s pretty easy to add your blog posts, cut and paste the title, the body, add some photos, and upload a featured image. And so that’s easy.
Another content option here is adding an event. And so you can click on events and you can add a new event here, which is great. You can say the date, the time, if it’s an all-day event, put in some information about it, the title, the location. So, that’s pretty easy. You can change any information about your company here, you can change your head shots, your bios, and then it also connects to Google Analytics, which is great. And you can integrate it with some extras. So you can integrate with MailChimp if you’re using MailChimp or ConstantContact, riskalyze, Red Tail. And so because the site is built for financial advisors, they have all of the necessary integrations already built in, which is really nice. And so I recommend AdvisorWebsites as a great basic platform that has really strong pricing. It’s almost impossible to beat their pricing.
So all of their themes are mobile responsive, which is great. And they have four themes, which isn’t a lot, but their themes do look nice and they have limited FINRA reviewed content. So I think they have three to five videos about general financial planning topics that come prepopulated on your website. And they have a couple dozen articles about financial planning topics. So you do get some content on your site that people can browse through and take a look at. They have compliance integrations with some of the top broker dealers. And so depending on if your broker dealer has a compliance integration with AdvisorWebsites, it makes it really easy because instead of submitting a blog post to your broker dealer’s compliance platform separately, you can submit it directly through AdvisorWebsites and they can approve it through your dashboards. And so you’ll want to check and see if your particular broker dealer uses AdvisorWebsites.
It’s pretty easy to use and they have adequate customer service. One thing to know about their customer service is that it’s all online so they really want you to use their online knowledge base or submit a help ticket online. And so if you’re somebody that likes to pick up the phone and call customer service, AdvisorWebsites is not going to be the platform for you. But if you’re comfortable sending an email to have them fix something on your site, they’re pretty good about fixing things for you, which is nice. You can say, “Hey, this doesn’t look quite right. Can you make the change?” And they’re pretty responsive to fixing things within 24 hours.
There is a little bit of limited functionality. Obviously it’s a templated website option and so you can’t make your homepage exactly how you want it to look, you have to work within their themes and so that’s something to be aware of. If you want exactly a specific type of design, this probably isn’t going to be the platform for you because there’s limited functionality due to the themes that they build their site in. But overall it’s a great platform at a really good price.
Let’s talk about FMG Suite next. Now, FMG Suite, which was actually created by Craig Faulkner, who was the founder of Emerald. And so he’s been in the business a long time, I think almost 30 years. And he had a lot of experience creating the Emerald platform. It was very successful. He sold the company and then he started FMG Suite to create more of a digital marketing platform. So instead of just websites, FMG Suite provides content that goes out automatically via social media and an email newsletter. So it’s really more than a website, which is cool.
So there’s two website options. One is the Basic FMG Suite website where you choose from six basic themes and you kind of do it yourself. The second is the Concierge where they custom design your homepage, you choose from their premium themes, and it’s a four week process to work with a designer to get your site up and running. So depending on what type of look and feel that you want in a website, you could use Basic versus Concierge and also depending on how much help that you want getting your site up and running. So, here’s an FMG Suite Basic website. Now, I’m really a big fan of the Basic websites. I think they look great, they’re adequately designed and you can really customize them easily. And so this is Pilot Wealth Management. So you can see all the pictures have to do with aviation, which is really cool. You can see their navigation, who we are, our team, who we serve, why choose us. And so here’s their team members.
It’s really easy to customize the colors to add your logo, to upload your team members and so this is a great option at a low price for advisors who are comfortable doing it yourself. You can see their blog, you can see all the different blog posts that are really easy to update, and it’s easy for people to browse. And then the contact page here where there’s an automatic map of your location and people can ask a question. One of the great things about FMG Suite websites, whether they’re Basic or Concierge, is the content. And so all FMG Suite websites come with over 300 articles, videos, and infographics that are FINRA reviewed and come approved by compliance and just loaded on your site so that people can watch all of these videos on your site.
So, if you’re somebody who wants content on your site, FMG Suite is going to be the platform for you because they have so much great content. And so all these videos are surgical and they can go out automatically for you via email newsletter or via social media if you sign up for the newsletter and social media features of FMG Suite. So that’s a great strong suit.
Here’s an example of a Concierge FMG Suite website. And so you can see the design of the homepage is a little bit more high end. There’s a little bit more functionality here. Here you can see the content and the contact us today bar. So if you’re looking for an FMG Suite site, but you want your homepage to look a little different, they’ll customize it for you in the Concierge process. Here you can see basically the same type of navigation tools, they actually have an app and client login. So here’s the resource center with all of the different FMG Suite content. And so this is just another good example of a FMG Suite website that happens to be the Concierge build.
So let’s dive into the dashboard because I want to show you how easy FMG Suite is to use. It’s on par with AdvisorWebsites. They have a lot of functionality, so it can be overwhelming to advisors, but if you were dedicated, you could easily learn how to use it in an hour or two and become pretty proficient. And so here’s the different changes where you could make changes to your website design. And so you could change the theme or the colors or your logo here, you can change the navigation. So say you want to add a navigation where you add the people that you serve, it’s really easy to add a navigation tab, which would reside up here. ‘About us’, say you want to change that to, ‘who we are’, you could really easily go in here and edit that and change it to ‘who we are’ within here.
And so here’s where we would add a blog post, add a post, and then it’s really easy to cut and paste the title, select your author, which is cool. And that’s where we show up on the blog who actually wrote the blog posts and so you have your little byline and your photo, which is a nice touch that AdvisorWebsites doesn’t have. And then you can change the publication date, you could actually have this published in the future, which is a cool feature and you can add in your blog posts in your feature an image here. So it’s pretty easy to add a blog post.
Another thing that we want to make sure that we can add is an event. And so here’s the event page. And it’s really easy to add your event here and there’s a lot of information that you can add. So you can add the event organizer, you can upload a photo, you can add a summary of your event, basically a description, the start and end time, the location, and you can actually have your event expire on your website, which is great so that after you have your event, it disappears from your site so that you don’t have to remember to go back and remove your old events. And so FMG Suite has really done a great job of building out their event platform. It allows people to automatically register for an event on your site and get a reminder. So, if you do a lot of events, I really recommend FMG Suite because of their event functionality that’s a little bit better than other providers.
So this is the FMG platform. It’s really easy to make changes. And you also have your inbox here where people have sent a message to this advisor wanting more information. And then your compliance dashboard where if you submit a blog post, compliance can send you the required changes right through your FMG Suite dashboard, which is really easy and it makes compliance a little bit easier if you’re doing a lot of blogging or a lot of content on your website.
So all of the themes with FMG Suite are mobile responsive. They have dozens of themes between the Basic and the Concierge. So, it depends on which you choose there. And the real bonus is that they have over 300 FINRA reviewed videos, articles, and more, their content is really great. So, if you’re a generalist that is happy using generalist content, this is a huge asset for you. They have compliance integrations with the top hundred independent broker dealers. And so the only one really to be aware of is if you’re with LPL Financial, LPL doesn’t support any compliance relationships with websites. And so you can’t submit LPL Financial content directly through the FMG Suite platform, you have to use Compliance Max. So if you’re with LPL, that’s not really a bonus. But if you’re with any of the other broker dealers, especially Cetera, they have an easy to use compliance integration that will save you a lot of time.
And it’s pretty easy to use platform. They have adequate online and phone customer service. They do have a phone customer service number, which AdvisorWebsites doesn’t and so that’s helpful. Sometimes there’s some delays, so be aware of that, but they are helpful once you get through to them. And of course there’s going to be limited functionality because of the templates within their website. So there’s some things, if you want to change the way that your website looks, some changes won’t be possible between FMG Suite. So it’s important to know that, that if you have something in mind that you want, you may want to use a WordPress website that will give you greater functionality.
So let’s talk about WordPress. So WordPress is the most popular website platform in the world. So all major web developers work on WordPress. Many of the Fortune 500 companies have WordPress websites. It’s not specific to advisors, it’s the biggest platform in the world. And so it’s just the most popular platform, but it’s free and it’s open source. So what that means is that anybody can develop code for WordPress sites, and so they can develop integrations and widgets and plugins for WordPress. So there’s all the functionality in the world if you have a WordPress website, it’s completely at your finger tips. So it really opens up any functionality or design criteria that you want and so it’s for people who really want to have the sky’s the limit with their website and they want to be able to do whatever they want on their site. So it has the highest level of functionality and integrations.
So let’s look at a WordPress website. And so this is Cornerstone Wealth Management Group, and this is a new Carson Wealth Website. So the Carson Wealth Sites just switched over to WordPress and they look great. And you can see they have a lot of different things that you can do on the site. You can schedule an appointment, which is really cool. You can download their free resources, you can have some credibility here. And there’s this really cool quiz where you can actually discover the right investment strategy for you. You can say, “Here’s how I want my portfolio to grow.” And then people can take this quiz and submit their information to discover the right investment strategy. And so this WordPress site looks beautiful, it has a nice design. So, that’s just one example of a WordPress site.
Here’s another WordPress site that is not a Carson Wealth site. So this is Financial Life advisors and they’re very successful, they get a lot of leads from their website and you can see it has a great design. They have this video right here on their homepage. You can see a sample financial plan, you can learn about their process and you can see there’s different research and quotes going across their homepage, which is cool. And you can learn more about the different services they offer, you can ask a question, here’s their professional affiliations, you can read about frequently asked questions, learn about their fees, schedule a meeting. So it really has all the functionality you could ever want in a website and it looks great.
And so let’s take a look at what a WordPress site looks like when you log into it. And here’s kind of the downside. If you wanted to run your own website, WordPress is going to take you a little bit of time to learn. So when you log in, you can see that it is not the easiest to navigate. You go to the dashboard and you have all of this different areas where you can integrate things. So you can have your posts, your widgets, your themes, your plugins. And so this is really a platform that developers are proficient at using. And the cool thing is that you can use all these different plugins to make your site perform differently. So you could add a quiz or some different functionalities using plugins, but it is a little bit more difficult to use and it can be confusing.
So if you’re not tech savvy, you would definitely need to hire a WordPress developer to make any changes to your site. So that’s important to just be aware of. Even when you go to add a new blog post, it can be a little bit confusing to add a post because look at all this information. It’s just not really laid out in a way that the average advisor is going to be able to use right off the bat without really learning about WordPress. And so that’s one limitation just to be aware of.
So the great thing about WordPress is it’s going to be mobile responsive. They have unlimited themes, so you can purchase a theme from any WordPress developer and you can make it look however you’d like it to look. They don’t have any FINRA reviewed content, there is no compliance integration, and it does require a web designer. And so you’ll just want to be aware of that. But if you’re somebody who would rather just outsource your web design to a pro, it’s a great option because they have unlimited potential for design and integrations. It’s the most customizable platform and it has the best design potential. One other thing that’s great to know about WordPress is it’s easy to update your theme. So in three or five years when you want to change your website and make it perform to the latest specifications, it’s just one switch that you turn on to update your theme. You don’t have to actually move your website over to new platform. So if you get on WordPress, you’ll probably be on WordPress forever, which is a good longterm investment in your website.
So let’s talk about the all important price comparison. And so AdvisorWebsites, as I mentioned, is the least expensive option. You can actually get a website for $29 a month with zero setup fees, which is incredible. That’s one of their basic sites that you do it yourself, but if you’re looking at budget as a main constraint, I recommend AdvisorWebsites. FMG suite is kind of a middle of the road. So, depending on the different tools that you choose, depending on if you want their email newsletter or their social media scheduling tool, you could pay between $159 to $300 per month. The Basic websites are $300 set up and the Concierge are $1,950 and so we talked about some of the differences between them.
I really recommend the Basic site. I think they look great. It does require you to do it yourself a little bit, but the price is right and it’s a great option. If you need help with your FMG Suite Basic website, that is a service that I offer to get you up and running with your FMG Suite site and optimize it so that you can use the Basic platform and have a great looking website. And then for WordPress, your hosting is going to be between $10 and $50 per month. WordPress itself is free, you’ll just have to pay for your hosting. Whereas FMG Suite and AdvisorWebsites, the hosting is already included. You’re going to pay a designer between $600 and $3,000 for the setup costs. So, creating your theme, setting up your site, doing that kind of development. And so it really ranges because it depends on what type of a site you want to build. And so those are the general ranges of costs.
And then just keep in mind, you’re going to have to pay a developer between $40 and $60 per hour for website maintenance and changes. Although, that sounds like a lot, they are really good developers. They can get a lot done in an hour. So you can send them a bullet list of things that you want changed and they can get a lot done for your hourly charge. And so don’t let that kind of dissuade you from a WordPress site because it does give you a lot of freedom.
So what’s the best website for you? That really depends and let’s talk about how you would choose the best website platform. So first of all, how price sensitive are you? If you’re price sensitive, you’d probably want to go with AdvisorWebsites. It’s the best bargain option. What is your compliance relationship? If you’re with any of the larger independent broker dealers, you’ll want to go with either AdvisorWebsites or FMG Suite depending on if they have a compliance integration. And so just double check, almost all of the independent broker dealers have an integration with FMG Suite, so that’s kind of a no brainer because it makes any changes to your website so easy. You don’t have to submit your changes to compliance and then make them on your website. As soon as you write a blog post, you can upload it to your website, they review it and once they approve it, it goes live on your site. So that’s definitely a consideration that will make your life easy and save you time. So I recommend AdvisorWebsites or FMG Suite if you’re with a broker dealer.
And do you value evergreen content? So we went through the videos that FMG Suite provides, if that’s something that you really like, then FMG Suite is going to be your winner because they have the best content and the largest library of content. How important is flexibility to you? AdvisorWebsites is pretty limited on their flexibility. FMG Suite is also limited. So if you’re really worried about flexibility and you want your website to have a lot of different options, go with WordPress. If flexibility is of mid range importance, FMG Suite could still work for you. And what functionality do you require? So are you going to want to be adding all kinds of different integrations and quizzes and different features on your site? WordPress is going to be the site for you because it integrates with every single platform that you can imagine and it has all the functionality in the world. And so if robust functionality is really important for you, WordPress is going to be your clear winner there.
And then just consider how tech savvy are you? Do you want to have control of your site? A lot of advisors want to be able to log in and make changes to their site. Some advisors, that’s never going to happen and so it doesn’t matter that they have to pay a WordPress designer because they’re never going to do it themselves anyway. And another consideration I would make is, if you get a WordPress site, there are WordPress developers everywhere in the world that you can work with. And so if you don’t like one developer, you could move to the next developer and they can just as easily work on your website. FMG Suite and Advisor Websites, you do have to go through their customer service. And so if you’re uncomfortable with their customer service or if you’re not happy with it, you’re kind of stuck with them. And so that’s one consideration to make as well.
So I want to give you your free gift as promised, you can save $100 on your new FMG Suite website by going to fmgsuite.com/indigoreferral. And so they’ll take really good care of you and they’ll give you $100 off your website at that link. Or if you’d like to get started on a WordPress website, I don’t actually design websites, but I work with a really good WordPress designer that can design a site for you. So go to indigomarketingagency.com/websites, you can see a sample of a basic WordPress site and we can get you up and running in just about a week or so on that platform and you can save $100.
So let’s talk about how to learn more. I hope that this webinar was helpful for you. If you want to learn more about our exclusive online courses, go to indigomarketingagency.com/courses. We have courses covering Google Analytics, LinkedIn, webinars, everything that you can imagine for advisors. And so check out our exclusive courses. And if you want to be on the email list so that you get access to more free webinars like this one, please join my newsletter, go to indigomarketingagency.com/newsletter, I only send emails once a week and I give away 90% of what I know for free and so every week you can get a marketing tip in your inbox or an invitation to an exclusive webinar. So, sign up for my newsletter and ask me a question anytime, [email protected] Thank you so much for joining us and it’s been a pleasure. I hope that this was helpful for you and we’ll talk soon.