Smooth Move:
Mastering the Transition When Switching Financial Advisor Firms
Includes Q&A
Tuesday, April 23rd at 12 pm ET
Considering a Move to a New Financial Advisor Firm? This webinar is designed for financial advisors contemplating or navigating a firm transition. Industry veteran Duncan MacPherson, CEO of Pareto Systems, will guide you through the key considerations for a smooth transition for you and your clients.
Coaching Financial Advisors for over 25 years1.866.593.8020
Pareto Academy Login

Proven Strategies Blog

2024-03-26 • 4 min video

Are you a financial advisor seeking a more fulfilling career? 

Discover the concept of Ikigai ("reason for being") and how to find your "blue square" - the intersection of passion, professional expertise, and economic needs. Learn strategies to identify and eliminate draining clients, creating a balanced and enriching career path.

If you like this video, check out out Duncan's YouTube Channel "Duncan MacPherson", and Subscribe for videos like this and much more. His channel is  dedicated to helping Financial Advisors improve client relationships, create a steady stream of quality referrals, and optimize business strategies. Don't miss out on valuable insights to take your practice to the next level! YouTube Link: 

2024-03-25 • 4 min video

Struggling with writer's block and wasting time on notes? Discover how Financial Advisors are using AI to write content, summarize meetings, and boost efficiency. Watch to learn how ChatGPT and AI can transform your practice!

This is an excerpt from episode 55 of the "Always On with Duncan MacPherson" podcast featuring Seth Diener, owner of Diener Money Management, and Alex Lerch, director of Oak & Stone Advisor Marketing.

Stream the new episode "The Future of Branding and Client Acquisition" by clicking here:

Blog Posting Image
2024-03-22 • 20 second read

Reframing/reinforcing your value and garnering a newfound appreciation among them is a great way to increase testimonials and referrals.

Learn how to effectively market to your current clients with actionable examples in the Always On podcast featuring guests Seth Diener and Alex Lerch:

2024-03-21 • 4 min video

This video reveals a game-changing strategy many financial advisors are missing.

In this video, you'll learn:

  • How a recent SEC rule change allows you to leverage client testimonials for marketing (and why it's a missed opportunity if you're not doing it).
  • Actionable steps to collect powerful testimonials from your clients (including scripts and landing page creation).
  • The surprising benefit of testimonials that goes beyond attracting new clients (hint: it strengthens existing client relationships and boosts referrals!).
  • How testimonials help you stand out and build trust with your ideal clients.

Stop wondering if you're providing enough value. See how client testimonials become a crystal-clear signal that validates your work and fuels your purpose.

This video is perfect for financial advisors who want to:

  • Grow their business through referrals.
  • Increase client trust and credibility.
  • Attract their ideal clients.
  • Strengthen client relationships.

Ready to unlock the power of client testimonials? Watch now!

This is an excerpt from episode 55 of the ?Always On with Duncan MacPherson?s podcast featuring Seth Diener, owner of Diener Money Management, and Alex Lerch, director of Oak & Stone Advisor Marketing.

Stream the new episode "The Future of Branding and Client Acquisition" by clicking here:

Blog Posting Image
2024-03-19 • 2 minute read

Financial Advisor Branding: The Key to Long-Term ROI 

Advisors frequently ask me which marketing strategies are best for client acquisition. And while there is a place for some marketing strategies and campaigns, often I will steer the conversation to instead discuss the power of branding, and why it can be more effective than traditional marketing over the long haul.

Marketing is what you say to your clients, partners and prospects. Branding is what they hear. Furthermore, marketing tends to be campaign driven and doesn't have the staying power of branding which is typically on-going and part of your habits and rituals. To use the universe as a metaphor, marketing is like a shooting star - very fleeting. Branding is more of the steady burner - something that endures.

As a financial advisor you are in the knowledge for profit business. You think for a living. You aren't selling tangibles. You are promoting the promise of the future. That can be abstract and there are a lot of things out of your control. Branding helps take the abstract nature of what you do, and makes it easier to understand and appreciate.

That being said, all of your communications take time to sink in and be absorbed. Keep in mind that your MVP's (Most Valued Prospects) already have another financial provider. You are trying to position yourself as #2 and create a nagging feeling that they should consider their options. With existing clients, you want to competitor-proof those relationships, gain their full empowerment as unmet needs become apparent, and earn their endorsements. Endorsements are the distinction between a client and an advocate, but earning advocacy takes time.

Facts Tell, Stories Sell

Advocacy is created when you make it easy for your clients and partners to talk about you the messenger, not just your message. One simple example of branding is the use of coins in your client communications. I know of several advisors who now send a sterling silver dollar in a handsome case to pay tribute to a client who has referred a friend or family member. The coin is symbolic, and the client can hold it in their hands. Money and investing has become so virtual that the coin impact-fully snaps clients out of their fog and reminds them that money can be tangible and beautiful. It has immense shelf-life and anchors your relationship every time they look at it.

The Trojan Horse

Building on that, if you want to position yourself in the hearts and minds of the next generation - and throughout your clients' entire family trees for that matter - you can send your clients' children a penny beautifully framed with a reminder of the power of compounding noted on the back of the frame, as a birthday gift. You have undoubtedly seen the example of how a penny that compounds in value every day is worth over a million dollars after 30 days. It's a great metaphor to help a child understand the value of money, and the power of the rule of 72. I've heard of several examples of advisors who have made themselves indispensable to their clients and created incredible buzz throughout families, by creatively bringing value to their clients' kids when it comes to understanding money and investing. If you read The Millionaire Next Door by Tom Stanley, you already know the power of positioning yourself within the entire family.

Many of these same advisors have paper currency framed in their offices from countries ravaged by hyper-inflation. It is a conversation piece that can help you segue into a financial planning solution you provide.

Your Sense of Purpose is an Extension of Your Brand

These are just a few of the many tangible branding ideas available. They are simple and impactful but also remind you of the importance of what you do. Your legacy and purpose is tied directly to the value you bring people. The key is to inject some personality and creativity into your branding so that you aren't swimming in the pool of sameness with the countless other advisors who aren't memorable and are easy to dismiss.

Key takeaways from this article:

Branding is an investment in your future. A strong brand attracts high-value clients, fosters loyalty, and delivers sustainable ROI (Return on Investment).

Building a Strong Brand:

  • Emphasize your purpose: Connect emotionally with clients by highlighting the value you bring.
  • Craft a memorable identity: Inject personality and creativity into your branding.
  • Deliver consistently: Exceed client expectations and ensure your brand reflects reality.

Creative Branding Strategies:

  • Client appreciation gifts: Such as a tangible token like a silver dollar can strengthen client relationships.
  • Family engagement: Educate children about money with age-appropriate gifts.
  • Conversation starters: Use historical currency to initiate discussions about financial planning.


Continued Success!


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Related Articles:

What is Branding? The Subtle Power of Branding


Would you like to implement financial advisor coaching best practices? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert to learn more about our Coaching Programs. 

2024-03-18 • 2 minute video

Discover the transformative strategies Alex employs to help financial advisors not only elevate their branding and stand out in a crowded market but also harness the power of client engagement through testimonials and reviews. Delving into the philosophy of "skating to where the puck is going," this discussion explores the dual importance of marketing for both attracting new clients and retaining current ones.

This is an excerpt from episode 55 of the Always On with Duncan MacPherson podcast featuring Seth Diener, owner of Diener Money Management, and Alex Lerch, director of Oak & Stone Advisor Marketing.

Stream the new episode of Always On by clicking here:

Blog Posting Image
2024-03-18 • 2 minute read

Understanding Financial Advisor Branding: It's More Than Just Marketing

Simply put, it's someone's interpretation for value being offered that aligns with a want or need that they have - even if occasionally that want or need is subconscious. Branding activates an awareness for and trust in something that often triggers an instant appreciation for how your value can benefit their life. It's different from marketing. Branding is the client's view of a value proposition, where marketing is the vendor's pitch trying to land and resonate. Marketing is a claim. It's advertising in an attempt to create awareness for your value. It is essentially a promise statement. "You should try this. You'll like it!" As you know, marketing can often prompt a skeptical reaction or complete apathy.

If we were to say, "We are good coaches," that is marketing - again, it's a claim. If you were to tell us, "You are good coaches," that's branding. If a stranger called us and said, "A friend of mine insisted that I call you. He told me that you are good coaches," that would be branding in action moving the needle. Marketing is what you say - branding is what they hear and then relay on to someone else.

Branding is an outward expression of your value that is interpreted based on the prospective client's frame of reference, their current provider and other vendors they are vetting. It activates an awareness for an unmet need which they have that you could fulfill. It is the first impression for a prospective client, not unlike the curb-appeal of a house that's for sale, or the esthetics of anything that gets someone's attention early in a relationship. When you see a piece of art for the first time or listen to a song or try on a new shirt or taste food that instantly and automatically impacts you - there is an invisible connection, and there is nothing stopping it. You want it. You rationalize it. You convince yourself that you need it. It's like trying to hold a beach ball under water. Nothing stops this. The desire does not fade and unravel the way the impact of a sales pitch can.

Branding is not just a first impression, though. It's a lasting impression. Professional contrast is not a one-off event. It is something that must occur on an ongoing basis for as long as the relationship exists. In the spirit of advocacy, branding impacts how you are perceived and how you are described. In part, it's fueled by how you articulate, communicate and demonstrate your value to stand out from the pack. It's a sequential flow of value, communicated so that somebody can understand and appreciate everything your value does in an ascending way, and then it's your consistent execution that backs it all up after the person opts in.

Branding not only impacts prospective clients and existing clients, it impacts other influencers like strategic partners. Branding is the lifeblood of advocacy. It is reputational and can be relayed. Marketing can create transactions, but does not go anywhere near as far as branding when it comes to referrals. Introductions from advocates are a recurring revenue stream for your business and build the very fabric of your business. Transacting is like sewing without a knot at the end of the thread. Lastly, and it bears repeating, branding helps achieve stewardship, meaning your value is bought, not sold. 

Key takeaways:

What is branding? It's not just a logo or slogan. It's the overall perception of your business in the minds of your target audience. Branding goes beyond marketing to create trust, recognition, and loyalty.

Here's how branding differs from Financial Advisor Marketing:

  • Marketing is the "what you say" - your claims and promises about your value proposition.
  • Branding is the "what they hear" - how your target audience interprets your value and communicates it to others.

Think of branding as the curb appeal of your business. It's the first impression that grabs attention and sparks interest. Strong branding can create an unconscious desire for your product or service, similar to how a delicious dish or a beautiful piece of art can instantly captivate you.

The Benefits of Powerful Branding:

  • Increased brand awareness and recognition
  • Stronger client relationships and loyalty
  • Improved reputation and credibility
  • Effective word-of-mouth marketing and referrals
  • Premium pricing potential
  • Attracting and retaining top talent

Building a Strong Brand is critical for Financial Advisors:

  • Clearly define your value proposition. What unique benefit do you offer?
  • Develop a consistent brand identity. This includes your visual elements (logo, colors, fonts) and messaging (tone of voice, personality).
  • Deliver on your brand promises. Every client interaction should reinforce your brand identity.
  • Actively engage with your audience. Build relationships and encourage positive word-of-mouth.

By investing in branding, you're investing in the long-term success of your business. A strong brand will not only attract new clients but also turn them into loyal advocates who drive sustainable growth.


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Related articles:

The Subtle Power of Branding, Differentiating Begins with a Personal Branding Strategy


Do you want to learn how to implement these financial advisor marketing & branding strategies? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert to learn more about our Coaching Programs. 

Or learn more about our Financial Advisor Business Coaching at


Keywords: branding, brand awareness, brand identity, brand loyalty, marketing, client perception, value proposition

Blog Posting Image
2024-03-18 • 2 minute read

Financial Advisor Branding: How to Stand Out From the Crowd

Branding is different from marketing in that it more quickly impacts how a prospective client perceives you at the moment they become aware of you. Literally, that first and lasting impression that snaps them out of their fog, gets their attention and resonates over the long haul. Branding also impacts how your clients and other influencers in the marketplace describe you to others when the opportunity presents itself.

Our approach is proven and is drawn directly from our one-to-one coaching program used by some of the most effective financial advisors in the business. It can ensure that you are perceived as a consultant by prospects and described as a professional with a process by clients and influencers.

And that is really the point. How are most financial advisors perceived - as sales people selling investments or as consultants providing an investment process? Many people today associate a financial advisor as a broker asking them to buy investments as opposed to a consultant asking them buy into a process and long term relationship. That's their expectation and you cannot feed that - you have to differentiate using effective messaging in all of your verbal, printed and multimedia communications.

Furthermore, it's becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the pack because the investment industry is becoming more and more commoditized each and every day. Along with that, there are forces at work that prompt people to focus on what you cost rather than what you are worth. Price is only an issue in the absence of clearly defined and relevant value. A solid branding strategy helps people focus on your unique value.

In addition to standing out, your goal is to get people's attention and be memorable. The velocity of noise your clients and prospective clients are exposed to is dizzying. There is a natural signal to noise ratio in this business - you want people to tune out the noise and tune in your signal. Branding helps you achieve this while ensuring you are positioned as an expert rather than being perceived as a salesperson.

As a consulting company for financial advisors, we are often asked what someone can expect from our practice management and business development consulting program. My answer is simple: we want to help you work half as hard and earn twice as much.

That is achieved by helping advisors deploy a full suite of best practices, use a fit-process instead of a sales process and implement a branding strategy that is more compelling and attractive to affluent clients.  

Key takeaways:

Our Proven Branding Strategy:

  • Position yourself as a consultant, not a salesperson. This approach emphasizes your process-driven approach and builds trust with potential clients.
  • Craft a compelling message across all communication channels (verbal, written, and multimedia) to highlight your unique value proposition.

Why Branding Matters for Financial Advisors?

  • Stand out in a commoditized industry. A good branding strategy ensures you are differentiated from other financial advisors.
  • Shift focus from cost to value. A strong brand clarifies your worth and attracts high-net-worth clients.
  • Cut through the noise. Break through the constant barrage of information and capture client attention.
  • Be perceived as an expert. Branding positions you as a trusted advisor, not just a product seller.


Continued Success!


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Related articles:


Do you want to learn how to implement these financial advisor marketing & branding strategies? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert

Or learn more about our Financial Advisor Business Coaching at

Blog Posting Image
2024-03-18 • 2 minute read

Branding: Beyond Aesthetics 

Does your value stand out to clients? How does your brand make someone feel initially, and then over time? You probably know the names Marion Morrison and Norma Jean. Marion Morrison was better known as John Wayne. It's not to say that he couldn't have been as popular had his stage name been Marion Morrison - Shakespeare talked about a rose smelling just as sweet. Norma Jean could have been just as popular as Marilyn Monroe, but there's a reason they (or their studios) decided to rebrand their names. In their world, they were trying to create followers. Some might misidentify this as ego, or having a hero complex, but at a basic level it is providing an aspirational example for the entertainment consumer. A lot of people in the world want to be lifted up, or to escape - to feel like they would have a shot, too. That feeling is an unmet need which entertainment can address. Smart positioning and messaging (or a name-change) can facilitate that. Something moved Robert Zimmerman to adopt the name Bob Dylan and his brand has survived for many decades.

(Fun fact, Hugh Dillon - his actual name - is the lead singer of The Headstones. He is also a notable actor with roles such as Sheriff Donnie Haskell in Yellowstone. If that's not impressive enough, he also played pond hockey with NHL Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour as kids. Hugh is a living legend. Watch the Headstones music video for Smile and Wave - a great mantra to live by - to see him in action in the 90's.)

There is a subtle power to branding. There are quantitative benefits, not just qualitative. In 1954, Peter Drucker wrote The Practice of Management in which he noted there is only one valid definition of a business's purpose: To create a customer. In this era, we might modify that a bit and say "to create and keep a customer." The modern volume of noise and the velocity of information is intense, but your branding strategy is your beacon and a means to an end. All roads lead to attracting and keeping great clients and converting them to advocates. 

Branding is not just about who you are, what you do and how long you have been doing it. For a majority of your competitors, that's how they think about branding and therefore they are in a competition to tread water because of commoditization. They strive to impress with technical knowledge. They use generic word salads and jargon. They're proficient but couldn't be less interesting. It's like listening to someone explaining their tattoo or describing last night's dream. Interesting to them, but not so much for the listener. They will say things like, "We do things differently here. We take a holistic approach." You might respond (with pardonable cynicism), "Oh, good, you're the one. Finally, I found someone who uses a holistic approach," because, again, technical ability is now a minimum requirement. 

Everyone says and aspires to being unique and professional. Branding should not just be bright lights and a coat of paint. It's not just staging a house to try to sell it for maximum value. It's bigger than that. It permeates everything, because it has to be backed up. Potential clients are going to look at the bones. They're going to look behind the curtain. They want to know that there is no over-promise/under-deliver. That you've got the goods - fully and completely. 

To summarize this New Era of Branding:

In today's information overload, cutting through the noise is critical. Your brand is your beacon, attracting ideal clients and turning them into advocates.

Branding is NOT about:

  • Bragging about experience. Technical expertise is a baseline expectation, not a differentiator.
  • Generic messaging. Avoid jargon and cliches like "holistic approach." Be specific and engaging.
  • Superficial aesthetics. Branding is more than a visual makeover. It reflects your core values and consistent delivery.

True branding is about:

  • Identifying unmet needs and offering a solution that resonates emotionally.
  • Delivering on promises. Building trust requires consistent quality and exceeding expectations.
  • Building long-term relationships. Convert initial interest into lasting customer loyalty.


Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson, author, speaker and Financial Advisor Coach


Related Articles: 


Do you want to learn how to implement these financial advisor marketing & branding strategies? Speak with a Pareto Systems expert

Or learn more about our financial Advisor coaching at

Blog Posting Image
2024-03-15 • 20 second read

It's not what you say, it's what they hear!

The way you articulate your value to clients and prospects plays a huge role in your branding.

So, when clients believe financial advising is solely about managing money and picking investments, they may overlook the comprehensive value and services you provide.

Stream the latest Always On podcast where Seth Diener and Alex Lerch share insights on effectively articulating your value proposition:

Pareto Systems
Thank you for submitting the online form. A Pareto Systems representative will contact you within 24 hours or the next business day.