40 under 40, Top Financial Advisory Firm, Fastest Growing RIA, Best Place to Work—you’ve seen the lists. Perhaps even your competition is on them. Want to know how you can win awards and accolades for your financial business?
3 Ways to Help You Win Awards:
There are two kinds of professional awards:
- Those that rank your business strictly on hard facts, (like AUM via SEC or FINRA data, or your reported growth of revenue and employees,) and
- Those based on more subjective criteria that require nominations to compete.
Each award will have its own judging criteria, so it is helpful to identify specific opportunities to target. However, if your goal is to build an all-around award-winning reputation, here are some things to work on to increase your odds:
1. Document Accomplishments & Innovation
Regardless of the type of award, the more you can back-up your claims for being “the best,” the better your chances will be. Consider measurable and material efforts that show how you go above and beyond what would be considered “the norm.” Examples include:
- Being a published author or media authority on a topic.
- Reaching a large number of people through a specific effort (i.e., live events, campaigns, etc.)
- Measured growth resulting from an innovation (i.e., growing 3x in a year.)
- Demonstrating leadership toward an idea or movement (i.e., financial literacy, holistic planning, etc.)
2. Increase Community Involvement
Philanthropic efforts are very common factors for professional award opportunities. There are awards highlighting these efforts alone, but often these are great supporting efforts for any award category.
- Focus your efforts: Concentrate on supporting one or two specific organizations or causes each year. Creating opportunities for your staff and clients to give back can be a great way to maximize your impact. (Check out our past blog for tips on choosing a charity.)
- Remember to track metrics: The number of hours volunteered, funds raised or other sizeable impacts of your efforts will be much more meaningful than simply listing organizations you support. Personal stories of lives affected in your community can be powerful as well.
- Consider photo-ops: Many publications will want to include photos as part of their feature story of award winners, so make sure to capture great images whenever possible. Keep in mind rights restrictions, especially if you are volunteering with children, and focus on group photos of your staff involvement.
3. Establish a Corporate Culture
Hiring and retaining talent is an ongoing challenge for any business owner, and financial firms are no exception. If your goal is to attract new talent to your growing company, award opportunities that recognize company culture can be a great initiative.
- Unique benefits: Corporate culture awards will want to highlight any unique perks you offer your employees. Keep in mind the ongoing trend toward work-life balance. These may include things such as:
- Team retreats
- Bring your pets to work
- Concierge services
- Employee stock ownership
- Financial planning services
- Free daily lunch
- Game room/areas
- Great healthcare coverage
- Matching employee contributions
- Onsite childcare
- Onsite fitness facility
- Paid maternity/paternity/caregiver leave
- Paid time off for community service
- Profit sharing
- Ride-sharing/transportation from work
- Stress relief breaks
- Support groups
- Tuition reimbursement
- Unlimited paid time off
- Focus on training and feedback: Part of having a strong culture is setting clear standards. Create a structured process for providing ongoing training and employee feedback, and establish clearly defined goals and a team vision. Then make sure your whole team is working together toward reaching them. These awards will often survey your employee’s feedback, so everyone needs to be united on the same page. For additional insights, check out the five key similarities of “winning” workplaces shared by InvestmentNews.
Why Awards Matter for Your Business
Aside from being an honor, awards can carry significant weight in supporting your business goals. The importance of online reputations continues to dominate business trends with 85 percent of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
But, if you are like most advisors, you will have compliance restrictions limiting your abilities to capitalize on building these reviews. Earned content, including professional awards and public relations, are the best alternatives to build similar third-party credibility and trust with your prospects without crossing the line into endorsements.