Practice Management

Tips for Effective Retirement Practice Marketing

Marketing skill is essential in building up a retirement advisory practice, says Sean Ciemiewicz of Retirement Benefits Group, but public relations can be overwhelming for the unprepared.

By John Manganaro | October 22, 2014
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Ciemiewicz is one of the principals of Retirement Benefits Group (RBG), which currently employs about 50 advisers and oversees some $12 billion in client assets across the United States. The firm was founded a little more than five years ago and remains in a growth-oriented posture, he says, making marketing and PR efforts especially important.

The first marketing lesson Ciemiewicz shares with advisers, both independents and those affiliated with a larger firm, is that it is possible to be successful in marketing without spending all that much time on it. Even a few 30-minute sessions per week spent working on the company Facebook and LinkedIn pages can go a long way towards improving visibility, he says. What matters is putting in the effort, and ensuring all those who contribute to the marketing effort are doing so with a unified brand and objective in mind.

“If you’re an individual producer, of course you’ll have more of the responsibility to shoulder for yourself, but this shouldn’t discourage you from taking up a more aggressive marketing effort,” Ciemiewicz tells PLANADVISER. “I always tell independents and smaller advisory firms, and we do it even as a large group, to try to take advantage of all the different service providers and what they’re willing to do for you in terms of marketing support.”

Advisers may be surprised with the amount of support available from retirement plan service partners, Ciemiewicz observes, especially when it comes to the big recordkeepers and plan wholesalers. Service providers will be especially eager to support advisers who prove themselves to be capable producers of new retirement plan business. These advisers help grow the providers’ assets under supervision, he notes, an attractive proposition for basically all recordkeepers and wholesalers in the retirement space.

“They may have some educational articles you can rebrand and deliver to prospective or existing clients, or maybe they have fliers or other deliverables that you can use,” he explains. “And as you grow as a producer, you can even work with their back office marketing people to get some guidance about things like creating a mission statement, and even the practice management effort as a whole. They will be able to help you with the basic positioning you can use to grow your practice.”

Many public relations firms have finance- and retirement-focused practice segments. These partners can often be engaged at an affordable rate, Ciemiewicz says, and they can help the adviser make and maintain key contacts with trade journalists and other centers of influence. PR firms are also helping advisers produce written materials and other forms of thought leadership that help firms stand out in a competitive business landscape.