RIA Rising

NAPFA Joins a National Marketing Parade for Advisors

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The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors is climbing aboard the marketing train that is attracting so many other FA organizations looking to broaden their appeal to a national investor audience.

The group, in the midst of its annual convention this week in Chicago, said today it’s launched FeeOnlyNetwork.com, a website that promotes its 1,500 member advisors. NAPFA partnered with Advisorology LLC, which built and owns the site.

Investors can find NAPFA advisors using search tools on the group’s own website, napfa.org, but they would have to know about the site’s existence first before they could use it. FeeOnlyNetwork.com is search engine optimized, so investors doing Internet searches can more easily track it down.

All NAPFA members get a free profile on the site; those who want a more sophisticated profile that includes video and other features have to pony up $295.

The new site launch comes just a month after NAPFA launched a national radio and Internet ad campaign to promote its membership. It’s a relatively modest budget—$200,000, NAPFA spokesman Ben Lewis says, which buys 30-second spots on consumer advocate Clark Howard’s radio show, plus banner ads on his website and the site of National Public Radio through the end of this year.

The ad messages? “No commission, no confusion,” and “Our only special interest is you.”

With more than 60,000 members, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has deeper pockets. Last year it launched a four-year, $40 million ad campaign across multiple media platforms to promote its CFP designation. (It also raised membership fees to cover the cost.)

And last fall Charles Schwab unveiled an ad campaign to promote the registered investment advisor channel, with the theme, “RIA Stands for You.” One industry observer estimated Schwab spent a few million on the effort.

Building a national audience for RIAs also is on the agenda of Advizent,  a startup launched this spring by Steven Lockshin of Convergent Wealth Advisors and Charles G. Goldman, a former institutional services exec at Schwab and Fidelity Investments. Goldman estimated that Advizent would have to spend $30 million to $50 million for an effective national ad campaign to brand the company with investors.

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