Advocis: The Financial Advisors Association of Canada

Story Development & Content Strategy

Aligning a national organization around an emotional message.

Background

A national organization of Canadian financial advisors, Advocis’ mandate is to advance the interests of that profession from coast to coast. These days, that’s a difficult task. Ever since the financial crisis, Canadians perception of financial advisors have fallen. Throw into the mix new disruptions in technology and a growing call for increased regulation. Advocis’ challenge is to help convince Canadians of the value of financial advice.

Problem

But the organization faced a problem. As an association of financial advisors, Advocis defaulted to using numbers to make its case — both to Canadians at large, as well as to its membership. In doing so, though, they acknowledged that they were missing an enormous opportunity. “Facts tell, but stories sell,” acknowledged leadership. I was hired to help develop a story that really connected.

Approach

Along with Advocis, we organized a “storytelling task force” of 10 financial advisors from across the country, who converged on an airport hotel in Toronto, alongside the CEO and members of the senior executive, for a two day Story Sprint.

There were two goals of this workshop:

  • to dive deep into the organizational story, to see how it could be improved to better engage key audiences, including governments, membership and potential members;
  • to enable new channels within the organization to better address issues relating to the organization’s communications voice.

In order to achieve these goals, the group employed a combination of facilitated conversation and design thinking exercises, collaborating on new strategic planning language that created a heightened, emotional narrative predicated on storytelling. This language moved away from the traditional, numbers based approach for making the case for financial advice, repositioning the financial advisor profession as one focused on emotional support and guidance in the lives of Canadians.

In order to confirm this direction, after the workshop, we tested this language in one-on-one qualitative interview with current membership and were emboldened by the positive feedback.

Outcome

This workshop helped moved Advocis’ corporate communications into a softer, more emotionally focused direction. Shortly after the workshop, the organization launched the website Financial Advice for All, which helped educate Canadians about Advocis’ thought leadership, while rallying membership together.

Advocis: The Financial Advisors Association of Canada - Jordan Bower