Thursday, June 24, 2010

Here are a few photos from the Women Advisors Forum in Chicago last week. The event, put on by SourceMedia, offered an opportunity to network with the most successful and influential women financial advisors in the nation, while gaining insight into their career experience and rise to the top.

That's me (second from the left) with Ruthie Ackerman (a journalist from SourceMedia covering the event), Clara Sierra (Sentinel Financial Services Company - a speaker at the event) and Mari J. Buechner (Coordinated Capital Securities, Inc. - a speaker at the event).

Here's the back story - and who says people over 40 can't be spontaneous?

I decided on a whim, 2 days before the event, to rejigger my schedule so I could attend the Women Advisors Forum in Chicago. Even though I'd been on the road, speaking and consulting the entire first two weeks of June, when I ran into Financial Planning / On Wall Street magazine publisher Tim Whiting at the Pershing Insite Conference in Florida, I just couldn't resist the compelling value proposition he laid out.

So, after kissing my family hello and goodbye, I jumped on a plane the morning of the Women Advisors event and flew from my home town Kansas City to Chicago on the early bird flight. Karen Embry, one of Impact's ace project managers came with me. Gotta love Southwest Airlines!

Long story short: We had such a good time networking and learning from our esteemed colleagues that I intentionally missed my flight home that night in order to stay the night and go out to dinner with a choice group of people.

No toothbrush or jammies, but I managed to find a 7-11 and get the essentials I needed before settling into my hotel room with a copy of Carol Frohlinger's book "Her Place at the Table." Carol, a successful attorney and co-founder of Negotiating Women, Inc., was the closing keynote speaker at the event and she was FANTASTIC! She spoke about the propensity most women have to "bargain themselves down" even before the negotiations begin - plus a lot more.

But let me back up to the beginning of the afternoon event.

I loved, loved, loved the luncheon keynote speaker: Elizabeth Moss, CLU, ChFC, CFS, CLTC, Agency Investment Specialist, MassMutual Financial Group. Elizabeth talked about how women view finance, how they listen and learn best, and how she has successfully helped countless women make good decisions about their money and their lives by using colorful stories and candid, jargon-free conversation.

Jessica Biblowicz, Chairman and CEO of National Financial Partners, the next keynote speaker, was simply amazing. What a beautiful and intelligent woman. She spoke about the challenges she and NFP had worked through during the dark days in 2008/09 and how they are now well positioned as a result of that somber, introspective time.

The panels were great, too. My favorite was the Women Rainmakers' panel. Of course I would say that, right?! Marketing and rainmaking is "my thing" and Sue Stevens, one of Impact's wonderful advisor-clients, was up on stage sharing how she's built her wealth management practice over the years after having left her mark as Financial Planning Director at Morningstar (and before that at Vanguard and Arthur Anderson, where she got her sea legs in the financial planning world after enjoying a nice career as a professional celloist). Sue and the other Rainmaker panelists were full of wit and wisdom. Check out Sue's latest brainstorm - - you might just get inspired to do something like this yourself. If not, you might as well use Sue's materials until you decide to build your own suite of attractive tools and resources.

It was nice to see old friends and make new acquaintances, too. Gail Marks Jarvis, syndicated columnist with the Chicago Tribune showed up for part of the day (thanks, Gail for turning in my leather notebook to lost and found!). And I was humbled when some of the attendees told me they recognized me from seeing my picture and reading my articles in Financial Planning magazine. Thanks, ladies - you made my day!

To top it off, Marion Asnes, Editor-in-Chief, Financial Planning magazine, was the-hostess-with-the-mostess. What a gracious and articulate emcee and panel moderator. I've been honored to work with Marion and her team on and off over the years. She's a class act - and one of the best editors I know. If you are not reading Financial Planning magazine as an advisor today, you owe it to yourself to subscribe now -

So, that's it. My recap of the Women Advisors Forum. I plan to move heaven and earth to get to the next one - which, I believe will be in Boston, on October 25th, right before the Schwab Impact Conference. Watch Financial Planning magazine, On Wall Street magazine and Bank Investment Consultant magazine for additional details.

If you'd like to listen to a radio interview I did with Nicole Coulter of Copernicus Radio, where at the top of the interview, I share about my experience at the Women Advisors Forum, here's a link:

And now for those photos:

Tammy Butts and Sue Stevens share Secrets of Women Rainmakers during one of the panel sessions.

Julie Murphy Casserly, Clara Sierra and Amy Webber talk about Reaching the Top.

Mari J. Buechner, Marion Asnes and Bruce Morris at coffee break.

Marie Swift and Karen Embry at break with gourmet goodies.

Ruthie Ackerman and Marie Swift "tweeting" live from the Women Advisors Forum.

Link to the June 17, 2010 Chicago
Event agenda and speaker bios:

Watch for future events:

Over the many years that I've been coaching financial advisors on Marketing Communications strategies, we've continually discussed how building a strong online presence is essential.

10-12 years ago, websites were just "coming of age" and advisors were asking "Do I really need to have a website? None of my clients are online." Today we know that not only do you need to have a website but it must be A GOOD website. People will look you up online and if they see a poor website (or no website), chances are they will move on to another option. Bottom line: you have to have a good website today to be considered a serious business.

Today, with the advent of LinkedIn, Naymz, Ning, Groupsite, Facebook, My Space, Intranets, Wikis, blogs, Twitter (which is essentially "micro-blogging), You Tube, EONs, and thousands of other social media sites ... coupled with the ability to cross-link to "traditional media mentions" such as WSJ, Kiplingers, local newspaper and magazine mentions, TV clips, etc. and audios, videos and/or multi-media presentations you produce on your own ... it's a wild, wide world of possibilities. I hear this common objection from advisors all the time: "Do I really need to do all this stuff? None of my clients are on XYZ (fill in the blank with Twitter, for instance). I predict that in 2-3 years, we will look back and see that participating on several social media sites - in addition to maintaining and populating a good website and blog - and in addition to having numerous "traditional media hits" - will be required to be seen as a viable resource.

Moral of the story: You owe it to yourself to understand your options today and to get ahead of the curve by embracing several online tactics now.

What happens when people "google" (or "bing") you? What do they see? Online reputation management and presence is important. You want scads of cool stuff to show up on the first google / bing page - articles you've had published, quotes in publications, a blog, your Twitter feeds, your LinkedIn page, your profile on FPA's site (or NAPFA, Garrett Network, Paladin Registry, WiserAdvisor, NAIFA, etc.), a You Tube video channel, a book you contributed to or wrote, online news releases, etc.

Here's one other "must": REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS WITH GOOGLE LOCAL AT You want to make sure that if anyone searches for you online, your name comes up!

Using the right keywords and meta tags (and copy in your web content) is also important.

I could go on and on ... but let's see what you all have to say. Everyone please chime in with your best tips and advice by posting your comments on this blog site.

Not only will be learn new ways to improve our online presences, but I'll be sharing some of our collective wisdom at Web 2.0 and Social Media Boot Camp that I'm doing for FPA as a pre-conference offering (right before FPA's national conference in Denver) on Saturday, October 9, 2010.

If any of you want to attend that boot camp session, it will run from 8:30 am - noon (the 3.5 hour long session will include setting up professionally branded blog and twitter pages and populating your blog with both a podcast and a video clip / interview that we'll record there on site, as well as core content). We'll have a lunch break from noon - 1:00. Then I'll be leading an advanced cross-linking and online reputation management class from 1:00-3:00. The main conference kicks off that evening.

Just watch the FPA Bulletins if you want to consider joining me for the Social Media Boot Camp.

Meanwhile, please share your tips and advice on building a strong online presence here.

Marie Swift
Marketing Communications and PR Coach