Webinars provide a virtual meeting place for people within your circle of contacts to gather and receive information. A webinar can be a tool that complements in-person discussions and can open up new conversations with clients, colleagues and centres of influence (COIs).

You can use webinars to educate clients on financial matters such as tax planning, estate planning and budgeting. And, depending on the topic you choose to explore, you can invite other professionals to contribute to these online events.

Here are some ideas on how you can host webinars that help establish you as an expert in your field:

> Pursue topics tied to life events
When choosing topics to cover, consider building a mini-series around a life event that most of your clients expect to face in the coming years, such as planning for retirement or starting an education savings plan. These topics offer a chance for you to tap into the knowledge of other experts. 

"It looks good for [advisors] to bring that outside perspective," says Larry Distillio, assistant vice president of practice management at Mackenzie Investments in Toronto. "It shows that the advisor has resources available to help clients and it increases the perceived value of the advisor because they're working with a team of experts."

If you work primarily with retirees, for example, you might invite a life coach to lead a webinar on how to "live a life of purpose," Distillio suggests. Other installments in that series might delve into explaining the role of an executor and creating a family foundation.

When planning these webinars, Distillio says, appeal to the audience by using case studies instead of just listing facts.

> Archive your webinars
Consider timing your webinars to coincide with lunch hour and promoting them as lunch-and-learn sessions. For those who cannot join in live, make your webinars available on your website for streaming later.

You can create a page for all of your past webinars, which clients and prospects can revisit. Adobe Connect and GoToMeeting, for example, allow you to record and play back your virtual conferences.

> Educate members of your professional network
You can also create webinars that address the other professionals you work with in offering your clients advice. You have an opportunity to keep your professional contacts, such as lawyers and accountants, in the loop on industry changes.

Your COIs might benefit from learning more about regulatory changes, especially considering the increased focus on transparency in the financial advisory business. For example, Distillio suggests hosting a webinar for accountants that discusses how financial advisors are compensated and what changes have been made to client statements.

> Follow the news cycle
Tune in to current events to gauge what might be influencing your clients' dinner-table conversations. Trending issues can be a source of ideas on what clients want — or need — to learn more about.

With the upcoming release of the federal budget, Distillio suggests, you might host a briefing of relevant policy changes your clients should be aware of.

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