Ben Sear of Martin-Redman partners wanted a website to stand out from the crowd, so he built it himself, as he explains.

    As a small adviser firm which four of us set up only three years ago, we knew that to show we literally meant business, we needed to establish a web presence right from the start.

    “We wanted a website that gave our audience a flavour of the business and which offered our insights, for people to then engage with us.”

    After setting up a holding page, we met with a number of web developers and graphic designers who could bring their respective skills to building a website for our brand new practice.

    However, we soon discovered that these creative suppliers came to the table with their own set of ideas that just did not fit with our objectives of what we wanted from our website - and we didn’t want our website to be the same as everyone else’s.

    Some financial services firms’ websites are great, some not so great. Our shared belief was that our website should be of value and of interest to people. And as a small adviser firm, there are also numerous companies out there that will sell you a website off the shelf, but we felt passionately that we wanted to stand out from the crowd. We wanted a website that gave our audience a flavour of the business and which offered our insights, for people to then engage with us.

    I then spoke to a contact who works in marketing who said it was possible for us to build our own website using a good software package – and save a lot of money at the same time. Squarespace was the package we chose as it was recommended to us. It costs us just over £200 each year while the cheapest quote we received for an out-of-house build came in at around £1,500.

    The build itself took me about a week including showing a first cut to my colleagues. I don’t have a background in coding or software development, but computers are pretty user friendly so building a website to a reasonable standard, playing around with the software, was a straightforward process.

    Our website is our communications hub to attract new clients and which we’ve put our own stamp on. That’s how we see it. We do get plenty of enquiries through it and we also have a twitter, Linkedin and Facebook presence, which drives users back to our hub.

    We are planning to modernise the look of our website over the next few weeks and we have the luxury of time to consider the changes we’ll make. We’ll update our most popular pages and now that we have a site, it will be easier to refresh.

    And once we have bigger budgets, we may invest in improving our web presence even further as part of the next stage of our business development - although we have spoken to more suppliers who are still coming up with ideas that just do not capture us at all.

    For a start-up adviser firm, if you want to stand out from the crowd and have a little time to build a website your way, then choosing a software package like Squarespace to help you is a great solution.

    My six pieces of advice to build a website for your adviser firm:

    1. What is your website for? Think about its purpose. The purpose of our website is to be a virtual business card which puts faces to names and which offers all our contact details.
    2. Discuss your proposition and product offerings with colleagues and think how these should be presented on your website. This gives you a real objective.
    3. Think too about how you want to present yourself as an adviser firm. Do you want modern graphics or more traditional typefaces? Make sure that the typefaces you pick are available in a variety of web browsers.
    4. Do as much research on great-looking websites as you can and see what your competitors are doing. It’s free! Ask friends and contacts too about what they want to see on a good website. Once you have that info, sketch out what you would like to put on your website, starting with the home page. Work out how many pages you need to link together, put a flowchart in place, pick your software, then start your build!
    5. Less is more. There are too many adviser firm websites out there with too much information. How many hits do you think your web pages on pensions will actually receive? There’s no point paying for web pages you also have to make sure are compliant if no-one is looking at them.
    6. Make sure your content is relevant and fresh. As an adviser firm, it’s important to offer information that is clear, simple and offers value.
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