When you hear about “personal branding,” do you think it sounds like something reserved for celebrities or the ubiquitous wanna-be celebrities, “influencers?”
Relax. It’s just the latest way to describe establishing your professional identity.
For finance experts like CFOs, CPAs, and accountants, personal branding means establishing yourself as a credible, trustworthy source. It’s about creating a positive perception of yourself, your authority, and your work.
In this article, we’ll look at why and how you should craft your personal brand to present yourself in a way that benefits your career and business.
Why Finance Experts Need an Personal Brand
You know reputation matters. You want to be seen as someone people can trust with their money, whether that someone is a business, an investor, or an individual.
Personal branding in the finance industry helps you attract clients and differentiates you from competitors.
When people are looking for financial advice or services, they want advisors who have a strong, authoritative reputation. By actively promoting your brand and expertise, you can build a following and establish yourself as a go-to resource in your field.
Set Yourself Apart
Can potential clients tell you apart from your competitors? If, for example, you’re a CPA, you probably offer services similar to most other CPAs. Every aspect of your brand, from the tone of your writing to the colors on your website, can help you stand out.
4 Steps For Finance Leaders To Create a Strong Online Reputation
Here are some tips on how to establish yourself as a credible financial expert:
Establish a Hub
When your business relies on a steady inflow of clients, visibility is crucial. And in today’s internet-centric world, that means online visibility. Gone are the days when businesses were all local and folks just used the phone book to find a CPA, tax advisor, or insurance broker. You need a place to be found online.
A professional website can serve as a hub for your personal brand, showcasing your expertise, experience, and accomplishments. Make sure your website is well-designed, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly. If you don’t have the expertise to code your own website (most of us don’t) you have options:
- Hire a developer
- Use a website builder
- Create a profile on a well-respected site
Your own professional blog is a great place to start creating and posting content, as you have complete control over it.
Social media can also be a powerful reputation-building tool for getting your expertise out there and connecting with your audience. Choose platforms that are most relevant to your target audience, and post regularly with valuable content.
When you’re ready to move beyond the short and sweet, consider the many options you have for publishing finance-related thought leadership content.
- White papers
- Case studies
Make sure your content is well-researched, informative, and engaging.
Speaking engagements can help you reach a wider audience and establish yourself as a leader in your field. Look for opportunities to speak at industry events and conferences. Depending on your comfort level with public speaking and your areas of focus, you might deliver a keynote speech, lead a workshop, or participate in a panel discussion with other experts.
Best Practices for Crafting Your Online Reputation
There are several best practices to keep in mind as you establish and maintain your personal brand. It’s important to choose the story you want to tell, provide real value, be consistent, and share your content far and wide.
Tell a story: Prudential’s Rock vs. Allstate’s Mayhem
Telling the story that sets you apart is crucial for creating credibility and recognition. Let’s consider two major insurance brands and the stories they’ve chosen to tell about themselves.
Prudential Financial has used the Rock of Gibraltar as the foundation of its brand image for decades. The solidity of the stone connotes a reliable, firm foundation people can trust with their financial information. A graphic silhouette of the rock serves as Prudential’s logo. And if you’re of a certain age, you probably remember the jingle “get a piece of the rock.” Prudential focuses its brand image on authority and dependability.
Allstate takes an entirely different approach to set itself apart. Actor Dean Winters stars in a series of commercials depicting “mayhem” and its effects. “Get Allstate and be better protected from mayhem — like me,” Winters says, as he portrays various distractions for drivers and disasters for homeowners. Allstate is all about dialing in to the hilarity and chaos of the modern world, reminding folks that they don’t want to be left without support when something unexpected happens.
Both of these brands have established positive — but very different — reputations based on the story they tell. In the same way, you as a professional can emphasize your strengths, speciality, and expertise by telling an authentic story that best encapsulates you.
Provide real value
The internet is overrun with content these days. If you want yours to contribute to a favorable picture of you as a finance leader, be 100% sure it offers real, valuable information. Value-added content, sometimes called thought leadership, always contains useful info — not promotions for your product or service.
If you’re a financial planner, you might share ideas for retirement planning, saving and investing, tax planning, or estate planning. If you’re an accountant, you might cover changes to corporate finance and accounting standards and how they impact financial reporting and business operations. If you’re a CFO, you might share your take on an emerging trend in finance, discuss the CFO role in strategic planning, or consider how CFOs can use financial planning and analysis to drive business growth.
Offering a taste of the secret family recipe is a far better way to entice than simply saying you have one. So don’t hoard your knowledge; share what you know. If they like what you offer, they’ll want to come back for more — and that’s when you get a new client.
Consistency is important when it comes to building your personal brand. Make sure your messaging, tone, and visual identity are consistent — from your website to your social accounts to anything else you put out into the world. Schedule new content on a predictable schedule.
Frequency (how often you offer content) matters less than consistency (offering it regularly). Whether you’re talking about daily social posts, bi-annual whitepapers, or monthly podcasts, the most important thing is to stick with your schedule so that your audience sees your reliability and keeps hearing from you.
Share your content
Once you've created content that your audience can use, it's absolutely crucial to promote it. A well-written and informative article does nothing for you if no one reads it. A professionally produced video is useless if no one watches. Here are some ways to promote your content:
- Share on social media: Share your content on the platforms where your audience is most active. Include hashtags and use eye-catching, professional visuals to grab their attention.
- Collaborate with other experts: Reach a wider audience and establish more credibility by co-authoring articles or hosting joint webinars with other respected specialists.
- Engage with your audience: Talk to people. Comments, emails, or social media responses can help establish trust as people experience you as a real person.
Use Your Personal Brand To Establish Yourself as a Credible Finance Expert
In today’s internet-centric world, every serious professional needs a solid online presence. Gone are the days when businesses were all local and folks just used the phone book to find a CPA, tax advisor, or insurance broker. You need a website or other hub, and to seek out opportunities to build your brand via posting, publishing, and even speaking.
The way you present yourself online and in person should tell your story, provide real value, and be consistent.
By building a strong personal brand and leveraging it to establish yourself as an authority, you can connect with a loyal audience who will come to trust you and think of you first when they need financial services like yours.
If you’re an accomplished finance professional who wants to build your reputation as an expert, learn more about Kiplinger Advisor Collective. Members gain opportunities to publish on Kiplinger.com, and can connect and collaborate with one another in a members-only platform. See if you qualify.