[IMGCAP(1)] For finance professionals, having a website is becoming increasingly crucial. Members of your target audience in need of financial advice and services use search engines to find experts and partners, and they will only find you if you have a website that's built the right way.

Of course, once they see and visit your website, your job is not done. Now is the time to give them clear options on what steps to take next, and convince them that working with you is the right choice. To help you accomplish that goal, here are five key website elements that any finance professional needs.

1. A straightforward homepage

For any finance professional, a simple rule of web design applies: keep it simple. Your audience will not be wowed by extravagant design or in-depth information; instead, they need to find out right away whether the expertise and services offered are right for them.

That does not, of course, mean that your website cannot include visuals; in fact, including a video or image that sums up your value proposition could be the perfect type of content to convince potential clients that partnering with you is the right choice.

But your visuals should simplify, not clutter up your homepage. A minimalistic design is especially effective, so be sure to only include the basics and link to other pages with more in-depth information as needed.

2. An extensive “about” page with credentials

For many businesses, the “about” page is of secondary importance after the “contact” page. Some potential customers may want to learn more about your origins, but most will simply be interested in the products or services offered. For finance professionals, however, the two are inextricably linked.

The quality of your services necessarily depends on your expertise. Your about page is a crucial part of your website to showcase your credentials and experience, which will convince potential clients that working with you instead of competitors is the right move.

To build that sense of trust for your prospective clients, here are a few elements your about page should include:

  • A narrative with your professional history, how you became a finance professional and what education you've completed to support your expertise.
  • An outline of any professional credentials, such as Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Financial Analyst, that support your claim to being an expert in your field.
  • Links to any content you have written online that covers financial topics to convey your thought leadership.

3. An outline of services offered

Even the best about page will not be successful if you don't link it to a page that outlines exactly how you can help potential clients. An outline of your services is crucial to help interested visitors understand whether working with you is the best possible choice.

Are you offering accounting services or retirement planning? How about investment advice? The financial service industry ranges far and wide, so clarifying exactly where you specialize is crucial.

When focusing on your core expertise, you risk excluding services that you offer but do not prioritize. So the choice of where to stop is up to you. For example, you can open the “services” page with your most important (and profitable) services offered, while devoting less important web space to secondary financial services.

4. Case studies and testimonials of past clients

Social proof is becoming an increasingly important element of web design in any industry. If you get others to talk about the quality of your service, your audience will be more likely to believe your claims and work with you. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online product reviews from strangers as much as personal recommendations from their friends.

Testimonials and case studies particularly help convey your credibility by adding independent voices to your claims of being an expert in your field. Working with a financial professional takes a significant level of trust. Having others talk about the quality of your services can be immensely beneficial to gain that trust.

Client testimonials should be present on most, if not all, pages of your website. But you can also devote extra pages to in-depth case studies, in which you detail how you helped specific clients achieve their financial goals, what measures were implemented, how long the process took and so on. The more potential clients can see themselves in the same situation, the more likely they will be to engage you for a partnership.

5. An interactive contact page

Finally, your website should include a contact page that goes beyond what most businesses have to offer. In most industries, simply including a link to your phone and email is often enough to get contact. Regular sign up pages help interested visitors turn into leads.

But financial professionals need more. Because of the in-depth nature of the transaction, you need to have as many ways as possible for potential clients to get in touch with you. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they will be to get in touch with you and engage your services.

A phone number and email address is obvious. But in addition, consider an interactive contact form that lets your visitors choose the time that they want you to contact them. The easier you make contacting you for potential clients, the more likely you will be to get business out of your website. Hosting sites offer different options. Wordpress, for instance, allows you to choose from a variety of plugins designed specifically for lead generation and contact forms.

In the end, that's what a website for any financial professional comes down to. You need an online presence that not only helps you raise awareness of your services and expertise, but also turn it into a tool that helps you grow your client base.

Henry Green is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas who helps small businesses and entrepreneurs improve their online presence through marketing, social media, and website optimization.

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