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Personal Finance FAQ

Why Don’t You See Testimonials?

Testimonial Lies
Nope. Not found here.

“Better than sliced bread!”
–Any number of paid testimonials

“Testimonials are enough to convince people for now.”
–Alex Chiu

If you go to almost any website selling something (and, yes, I am selling something, let’s not kid ourselves), you’ll see quotations and pictures of happy people draped all over the website.

Why is this so?

It builds credibility.

Without knowing anything else, which home page would you trust more?

Number one

–or–

Number two

If you knew nothing else, you’d see the testimonial, which would develop more trust.

Therefore, as a competent financial planner, I should have testimonials draped all over my site, right?

I’ve done it before, and it worked like a charm.

OpenSource Connections, Solr, Hadoop, and Big Data Consultants

There’s just one little itty bitty problem about testimonials and financial planners.

The SEC doesn’t allow them.

Allow me to quote the Securities and Exchange Commission on this one:

Rule 206(4)-1 under the Advisers Act prohibits SEC-registered investment advisers from using any advertisement that contains any untrue statement of material fact or that is otherwise misleading. The rule broadly defines “advertisement” to include any notice, circular, letter, or other written communication addressed to more than one person, or any notice or other announcement in any publication or by radio or television, that offers any investment advisory service.

In addition, an advertisement may not:

  • use or refer to testimonials (which include any statement of a client’s experience or endorsement)

How else can I build trust with you?

  • Time. Purchasing financial planning services is rarely an impulse purchase. It’s not as if Monkey Brain is jumping around telling you that you need to go see someone to figure out what to do with your finances. There are very, very few financial decisions which you’ll ever have to make in the heat of the moment. Hiring a planner is almost never one of them.
  • Transparency. I tell stores. I tell a lot of stories. They’re all personal. If there’s a stupid financial mistake someone could make, chances are that I’ve made it. I’ve also come out on the other side of them all and can tell you what life is like on the other side. It’s nice. It’s worth the effort.
  • Credbility. I write about a lot of things. I have hundreds of articles on the site. Type something into that search box at the top of the page and see what you get. If Google replies “I ain’t got nothin’,” then shoot me a note and ask me to write about it. I take requests. I’m not the best DJ in the world, but I do take requests!

By

Jason Hull, CFP®, was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business.

You can read more about him in the About Page.

14 replies on “Why Don’t You See Testimonials?”

There are SO many websites with testimonials that I suspect the testimonials are starting to lose their value. Video testimonials might be effective, but some written text attributed to a person’s first name?! Anyone could invent that out of thin air!

Testimonials had their heyday, but I suspect its efficacy is tapering down …

Great summary of why we can’t use testimonials.

I disagree with your comment that “Not like anyone uses Yelp to find a financial planner anyway…” I get a lot of new clients from Google searches, so what is the difference? If testimonials were legal (which I think they should be – this is a 50+ year old law that isn’t applicable anymore), sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google Reviews would drive even more business.

Hey, Alan – thanks for commenting!

A vast majority of my traffic comes from Google, which, in a sense, validates the assumption that Yelp isn’t the category killer that Google is. If I owned a bar or a restaurant, I’d try to crush Yelp, but, given my druthers, I’d rather come up first in Google listings for “financial planner in Fort Worth, Texas” (hehe…intentional seeding) than in Yelp listings.

That said, if the model changed and the old law vanished, those review sites that you mentioned would suddenly have much more weight to them.

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