Why Advisors Should Never Write Books
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Too many advisors get sold on the idea of writing a book. But very few are truly suitable candidates for this undertaking.
Indeed, I’ve yet to meet an advisor who I wished had written a book.
It’s the #1 mis-sold product by marketers to advisors; books are the fee-laden, fixed-index annuity of the financial advisors marketing industry. If you’re thinking of writing a book, here are a few reasons why you should pass. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you what you should do instead.
Negative return on investment
You will get a negative return on investment for your book. Even some of the best-selling authors don’t make any money off book sales.
Of course, the marketing consultants all say, “You don’t write a book to sell books. You do it to strengthen your brand and create more visibility resulting in speaking engagements and create a celebrity image.”
It has more to do with the following factors.
People want dialogue not monologue
Look at how our consciousness as a population has shifted due to social media. People of all ages and creeds love social media because it allows the opportunity for dialogue. Soliloquy is a thing of the past, as outdated as the Shakespearean plays that made it so popular.
Et tu, Brute? Yes, in fact, the whole world is doing this.
Technology has enabled us to share the truth about our experiences. Buyers are looking for this information when they check out at a product or service. Online threaded conversations about you have more influence than anything you say about yourself.
You’re better off posting short little snippets of content that are great for people to comment on and debate about.
I made a YouTube video (How I Passed the Series 7: Tips to Note and Traps to Avoid) about my experience passing the Series 7. This has almost 20,000 views. I’m going to paste the comments below.
Basically, here’s what happened. People wrote in to me with questions. I responded. Then other people who watched the video responded as well. And then the original questioner responded back to them – not me!
Here’s a clip from the discussion thread:
1 year ago
Do you think getting a series 7 would be a good move for someone who doesn't hold a degree who is interested in trying to break into the finance community? Also what are some other good resources or certifications that could help a non-college educated prospective student?
Basically, do you have a step by step process that you would recommend to someone like me who doesn't really understand much more than basic personal finance principles that would help move me into a position where I could break into the industry?
11 months ago
Visit Sara's Portfolio Management Career Center playlist on my channel which provides all info you need and a step by step guide.
11 months ago
You need to already be employed and sponsored by a brokerage to be able to sit for the exam. What area of finance do you want to break into? Different certifications are good for different areas.
11 months ago
Gabe Ramirez yeah I actually just found hat out recently, kinda [explicit]. I really want to be a CFA and I know that the series 7 is considered the starting point but I just never get responses from employers when I apply for entry level grunt type jobs with a resume and cover letter. Do you have advice as to where to start?
7 months ago
Brandon Baker I have a firm sponsoring me for my 7. I started out as a teller in 2010 and worked my way up from there. I worked for many banks and role from banker private banker and cold called for a money manager and took my series 65. All this without a degree. Good luck.
4 months ago
any updates Brandon?
Understand this point about the evolution of human consciousness: As human beings we are “pack animals.” Our consciousness is geared towards what people around us experience. We naturally want to be given the opportunity to share our experiences and hear the first hand experiences of others. This is how we communicate. This is what influences people in the world of today. And for right or wrong it’s what they trust.
Nobody likes reading anyways
Despite the fact that you’re reading this article right now, the reality is that nobody likes to read long-form copy anymore. Have you noticed how most professional bloggers don’t write a paragraph of more than three sentences? You’ve got to include videos, call out boxes, images, anything you can get in there to break up the monotony of a 1,000-word blog post.
Let’s face it. We have the attention span of a mosquito.
The tools you could use to promote the book – speaking engagements, YouTube livestreams, Instagram stories, podcasts, etc., are multi-media. The book is a source of content for those promotions. But you could get enough content for these promotions without writing a book.
No original content
If you’ve read any of my other articles you know my opinion that most advisors aren’t saying anything that original. If the book is about how to retire without running out of money (or some variation thereof) then forget about it. I’ve seen one or two financial advisor books do something original in all my travels and I talk to a ton of advisors every month.
Advisors don’t want to be writers. Even the ones that enjoy writing have little time in the course of their day to devote to this. So the whole activity turns into a game of hide-and-go-seek where a ghost writer has to chase down the advisor to get three paragraphs of copy.
I’ve lived through this personally as a ghostwriter. My experience is that most advisors don’t have time to write or review more than 1,000 words of copy every two weeks – if that. At that rate you’re looking at two to three years to get a book of any respectable length done, let’s say 100,000 words. That’s before we even talk about getting it through compliance.
You can’t publish half a book; it’s a useless sunk cost until you finish it. If your writer is on retainer, this gets pretty expensive. Writing a book is not blogging; it is the marathon product of the content marketing world.
Hard to promote
But it’s so easy, the marketing consultants say, you can just publish it to Amazon Kindle.
And then it’ll sit there.
If you’re planning to self-publish the book, it’s going to be hard to get any sales with a following of fewer than 10,000 people.
If you’re planning to work with a publisher, they also care about who’s following you. It’s not like it used to be where the house helps you push the book. The onus is still on you to promote the book to your network. If you don’t have the network, it will be hard to get a reputable publisher to take your book.
The expense of writing the book pales in comparison to what you are going to have to do to promote it. That’s what most marketing people conveniently leave off. LinkedIn advertising generally starts at $7/click. You could advertise on Facebook, which is much cheaper, but people on Facebook are generally not in a business or financial mindset while they are looking at pictures of their grandchildren on the slide at Chuck E. Cheese last weekend.
If you’re willing to spend the time and effort to write a book, take those resources and invest them in multi-media-rich online content that will get people reacting instead of talking at them. That’s the best way to get attention.
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a top financial writer with a focus on marketing and branding for investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor and worked at Lehman Brothers. Sara graduated from Harvard with a degree in English literature and has an MBA from NYU Stern in Quantitative Finance.