Getting the biggest technology bang for your bucks

Aug 21, 2011 @ 12:01 am

The following is an edited transcript of the July 19 webcast “Adviser Tech 2012: What Should You Buy Next?” Listen to the archived version here. The webcast was moderated by InvestmentNews technology reporter and columnist Davis D. Janowski. The panelists were Jude Boudreaux, Founder and Owner of Upperline Financial Planning LLC, Sabrina F. Lowell, Associate Adviser, Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc., and LeGrand S. Redfield, Jr., President, Asset Management Group, Inc.

InvestmentNews: Let's begin with Jude. He worked for Bell-ingrath Wealth Management in New Orleans for about five years as director of financial planning before setting up his own shop. Jude, instead of going with a lot of the established players in the niche advisory technology marketplace, you have gone out and found some either low-cost or free applications to seed your practice with. Can you tell us a little bit about the technology at your previous firm and then what you are doing now and some of the tools that you are using?

Mr. Boudreaux: I was with Bellingrath for five years and was in the process of bringing them, as I always said, into the 20th century from a technology standpoint. We had to get to the 20th before we could really move forward — digitizing our records and then getting CRM that everybody would use. We started with the so-called Advisors Assistant, which I think more insurance-oriented advisers may be familiar with, and it had come to us from an insurance carrier. And then we ended up using Junxure for the last three years that I was there.

FINDING APPROPRIATE TOOLS

I really enjoyed Junxure. It is very robust, obviously really designed for advisers, but with that comes a little bit of complexity and something that I didn't need on my own. We also used some familiar tools like Morningstar Advisor Workstation, Albridge to handle client reporting and bringing information together. And then eMoney [Advisor] was our financial planning suite. We also did some aggregation of outside accounts, and it also allowed us to share files with clients by using the vaults feature. So that was kind of the technology setup in a nutshell that we had when I was at Bellingrath.

Since I left to start my own RIA, I knew that I didn't want to have a server. For my little bitty startup company, I didn't want to go through the process of having to buy a server, get that set up and go through the big investment, especially when there is so much available now in the cloud as well as online.

A friend of mine who owns a technology company recommended I look into something called The Small Business Web. It is important you have the “The.” Small Business Web is just an advertising page for something else, but www.TheSmallBusinessWeb.com is a group of online companies that provide all sorts of different software tools that all work together. So it is really phenomenal from a very small-business standpoint to have a lot of tools to make us look like a really big business, but [it's] all online and all for very low cost without having to buy a very expensive license upfront.

For most of these I pay a small monthly fee. For some of them I pay nothing. I'm still in the free mode until we grow to a certain size.

InvestmentNews: And what are some of the tools that are within that?

Mr. Boudreaux: Most importantly there is a tool called Batch Book, which is a CRM. And they call it the social CRM. So, you put in all the information — with it being online you can also integrate clients or prospect LinkedIn, Facebook, photo streams from Flickr, all sorts of different places. If they are on Twitter you can pull in their last three or four tweets. So when you go to make contact with somebody it is very easy to get a snapshot of their activity online and possibly use that as reference in the conversation. “I see that the soccer game went great, congratulations to your daughter.” Whatever. It's just another way to show that you are paying attention and have some extra data there when you are reaching out to a client.

So from Batch Book, kind of everything else flows. So out of that is a tool, Fresh Books, which I subscribe to on their basic monthly package. It allows me to handle the little bit of accounting that I need to do. I don't have millions and millions of dollars to account for, so it is very easy for me to handle the things I need to do. But most importantly, it allows me to invoice clients rather seamlessly. So I can generate a client invoice. They will even mail it for me if I need to mail one rather than e-mail one.

And they also integrate with a lot of different online payment vendors. Authorize.net is the one that I use; it allows you to process credit cards very seamlessly. They get an invoice in their e-mail, click on it, they create an account. Log in, and then they can pay the invoice online with a credit card.

Very simple. Very easy to use. For some clients that are on a monthly retainer, it all happens automatically for them and for me, and it is all because of the back end with Fresh Books and Authorize.net.

LOW-COST OPTIONS

Fresh Books does everything I need it to do, nothing I don't. And it is very affordable. And then as far as keeping in touch with clients, MailChimp is another part of The Small Business Web. MailChimp is my e-mail subscription software so when I send out my monthly e-mail newsletters, it handles that whole piece. I'm still on their free plan because if you send out fewer than 5,000 e-mails a month, it is free. Most of us are probably well within that range. So it is a free tool and the data integrates back through to Batch Book. So, all of those three play together very well.

The whole point of The Small Business Web's applications is that they all use an application programming interface on the back end which allows the software to be able to talk to each other. You grab your API code and it helps everybody communicate very easily, or the different pieces of software to communicate very easily.

InvestmentNews: One of the listeners is asking, “In what order do you recommend adding the key applications?”

Mr. Boudreaux: I guess it depends how much lead time you have. You may need to start with accounting if you start spending money on your registration and getting your documents together, and you have to pay a firm to help you get your RIA documents together and filed. So you may want to set up something with Fresh Books. But it is very easy, regardless of which order you add these; it is very easy to go back through and put them back together using that API.

InvestmentNews: Could you explain a little bit about the way that you are app-roaching financial planning ?

Mr. Boudreaux: I'm fee-only, so I use MoneyGuide- Pro for my financial planning deliverable and to view all of the planning piece. But I don't charge an assets under management fee. Clients can pay if they use me for advisory management, they can pay their annual fee through the assets, but we don't start coming from that point of view. Essentially we charge a retainer based on a client's income and their net worth, excluding the value of any business interest they have or investment properties, things like that.

So, we basically take the income to generate the assets we are looking to manage, and that goes through a formula and generates an annual fee that clients can either pay by check, by credit card, or against the assets if they want to do that. So I use MoneyGuidePro for the financial planning parts.

The next question is going to be, who is my custodian? And the answer is, I don't have one.

I outsource all of the money management to third-party vendors, primarily to a company called TPC Advisers, which is a startup RIA that uses Dimensional [Fund Advisors LP] funds as their background. And then I also have an agreement with Symmetry Partners LLC for clients that want a larger, more established investment management firm. Symmetry Partners manages a few billion dollars in client assets. And so, we go to them.

But they handle all of the investment management. They send me copies of the statements. I have access to the accounts online, but I don't do the buys or sells. I don't deal with custody, that is all for them to handle.

InvestmentNews: The custodians are basically building out their own stand-alone technology platforms. That is a trend that started with Fidelity [Investments] and Wealth Central, shortly followed by Pershing [LLC] with NetX360. And now the two big continuing projects are Schwab Intelligent Integration and the Open API project by TD Ameritrade [Holding Corp.], whereby they are really partnering with a whole bevy of third-party stand-alone application providers once those folks have gone through a very sophisticated detailed security questionnaire and check. They share their API and then the parties can work together to basically seamlessly share data.

Lee and Sabrina, do either of the projects under way make you think twice about the setup you have, or are you so entrenched and deeply tied to what you are using that you wouldn't contemplate migrating over to these platforms?

Ms. Lowell: I think the custodians are really trying to focus on what advisers are looking for and wanting and trying to be a value-add. For a lot of advisers, it is a great solution, because you are simply buying the full package, and obviously economies of scale come with that in terms of pricing advantages, etc.

We primarily use Schwab [Institutional]. We also use TD [Ameritrade Institutional], Fidelity [Institutional Wealth Services], National Advisors Trust [Co. FSB]. And so, we are constantly looking at where we are spending our time and how we can leverage technology to reduce the amount of man hours spent on those tasks. We like the idea of using a fully integrated system but are always kind of questioning, “OK, we don't want to be too tied into one provider, because at the point at which we would want to make a switch, would we be so tied in that we wouldn't be able to?”

DECIDE ON GOALS FIRST

We really try to look at it as evaluating what our goals are, what are we hoping to get out of a particular piece of software and then looking at what's the best solution; e.g., does Schwab with the Schwab Intelligent Integration offer that, or should we be looking at other options.

InvestmentNews: Lee, did you want to chime in on that as well?

Mr. Redfield: The thought that occurs to me is that what Schwab is doing is trying to pick best-of-breed for various solutions. I happen to like that approach, because it is also how we have put together what we have in our practice. When you sit there and have a product like Junxure, which integrates with a product like MoneyGuidePro, which integrates with Morningstar's dbCAMS, they [all] start working together. But, they are not [from] the same parent. It seems to work well.

I'm not a big fan of all of our technology [going] in one direction because you don't know in what direction they may go in the future. So [The Charles Schwab Corp.'s] direction seems to be, if they are going to help pick and choose what is best, it might help all of us as advisers for the simple reason that we all seem to have different ways of wanting to accomplish what we do.

InvestmentNews: They have two different sorts of offerings they are going to ultimately complete. The first one will be their turnkey offering which has Salesforce.com as the central CRM hub and then linked — probably hardwired — into that will be Schwab PortfolioCenter. In announcing the project, they said they were going to put a bit of money and development into basically bringing out a really modernized version of PortfolioCenter as part of that.

Probably a majority of advisers listening in are using PortfolioCenter, but there have been mixed reviews about Salesforce.com. One complaint is that if you use the vanilla offering it is not tailored very well to the way an adviser does business — meaning that Schwab is going to have to come up with a highly customized version of that. But advisers who have been interested in buying it on their own feel it is a rather expensive offering, and that raises the question of whether Schwab is going to be able to offer some sort of deep discount or at least a significant discount.

Fidelity integrated Siebel in its platform, and as of six months ago only 100 of its firms had adopted it, which indicates that it is not, for whatever reason, a very popular choice with advisers. Do you think Salesforce might be compelling enough for firms to adopt the turnkey system?

Mr. Redfield: Having done a conversion in the last three years, I wouldn't want to be making any changes to a database again.

InvestmentNews: And that was to Junxure, which is what you are using now, right?

Mr. Redfield: [Yes, we're] using Junxure as a CRM. It's just difficult to go from a database to a database, and you do become married to the company you are going to do business with when it comes to a CRM.

InvestmentNews: Could you bring up just a few of the hair-pulling issues that you had to deal with in doing that migration because, again, there are probably quite a few advisers listening in who either need to make a change or are contemplating what they are going to buy. Share some of your own pain in that regard.

Mr. Redfield: There are three things that come up that you look at. One is, obviously, what the cost is. And it is not just the cost of the software; it is the cost of the conversion. We've got 20-odd years of data. So you are looking at what data you actually need to pull over. A number of people have said Junxure may be more complicated for their teams than necessary. That's probably true. We haven't used its full capabilities.

But we looked at what it provided from an education standpoint. And I would put Junxure and MoneyGuidePro at the top of my list for companies that provide solid education for teams. And if your team will participate in learning, which they do, you get faster response being able to bring it in. There's always going to be the transfer — “did we get all of the right data over, did it come in the right spot?” But that's just part of the conversion. Trying to do it yourself would be a mistake.

Ms. Lowell: Our office also went through a conversion, about three years ago, from [Old Mine] to Junxure. And I will echo Lee's comments that it is not a painless process. The programs have very different objectives, and it is not unlike Salesforce and Junxure; Salesforce is a CRM that is used by tens of thousands of users across many different business types. And so what you are going to get, I believe, is faster functioning and more robust software. I do have to say I am partial to Salesforce since they are located just down the street here in San Francisco. But I think that what Junxure brings to the table is that it's customized for advisers. So the notion is, you spend less time customizing, more time using. And I think it really does become a training issue.

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT

I think if people are looking at potentially making a change to their CRM, they should make a list of all the things they hate about their current system. They should go through them one by one and identify whether the problem is a system issue, e.g. a constraint of the program, a data issue — we all know the saying “garbage in, garbage out.” Or is it a training issue — are users unfamiliar with the system or how to use it?

After three years of using Junxure, we are seeing a lot of the same issues popping up, and what we are looking at is, “OK, is this a systems issue, a data issue or a training issue?” And really, what we are finding is that a lot of them fall into that last bucket, which is the training issue. So it is important to identify upfront before you make a change what are the issues that you are thinking about.

Mr. Redfield: You might also want to add this to the list: You want something to grow into, not grow out of.

Ms. Lowell: That's true.

InvestmentNews: We have two interesting questions from listeners related directly to CRM, and Junxure in particular. The first one is, “You guys are talking a lot about web-enabled CRM. What if I want to keep my data myself in case my Internet goes down?” Well, two points to that. For instance, CRM Software Inc., the company behind Junxure, started out with, and continues to sell, a client-server-based system. In other words, you run it on your own local servers there.

It is rolling out, sometime later this year, a cloud offering that will be available over the web. There are quite a few other vendors, even some that cater to advisers, with client-server applications that are going to run locally on your system. But the other side of that is the entire world is really moving to an online, web-based model. And so the idea of your Internet going down is not one you should really be concerned with unless you are perhaps in a rural area where you have only dial-up access to the Internet, or even what would be considered a more modern, say DSL, connection that is spotty at best. If that is the case, you need to try and negotiate getting a contract with a certain amount of up time guaranteed, so that isn't as much an issue for you.

INTERNET OFFERS SECURITY

Mr. Boudreaux: If I can add something to the whole web versus local thing: The biggest question about that is data security. How do you know your data is secure? My answer is, they are way better at security than I am. So, if all that data lives on one machine in my office or my laptop and my laptop gets stolen, then I've got a big problem. Whereas, if I am accessing it through dashboards and using a secure Internet connection and logging into their SSL-secured site, I'm way more comfortable with them and their technology protocols and their security than I am with my own. We often think that when it is out there we lose control. But I think this is easier.

InvestmentNews: We had more than a few questions on document management. What are you currently using in that realm? Maybe starting with you, Lee?

Mr. Redfield: I've been using Paper Port since Paper Port Version 2. It has some drawbacks from a security standpoint, which can be gotten around when you add other software or use encryption software. But it works very effectively in keeping things organized, in place.

InvestmentNews: Sabrina, what are you using at Mosaic?

Ms. Lowell: We use Worldox, and we are big fans. We were an early adopter; we have been using them probably about 10 years now. I can't even imagine life without that. It also plays well with the [Doc Vault] functionality that Junxure offers, which we also use. I would say we have 45% of our clients now on board with sort of paperless delivery of quarterly reports and financial planning documents, etc. So we are interacting with them through our Doc Vault, which we launched last year.

We are finding that clients are wanting information virtually, and the fact that we already were using Worldox just makes that process that much easier for us.

The goal would be to cut down the time devoted to quarterly reports substantially. One of the challenges is we have a pretty intensive QC process, so how do we make that process efficient in integrating with the online Doc Vault capabilities? So we are working through that, but that would be the goal — that it would cut down a substantial amount of time.

TRYING TO GO PAPERLESS

InvestmentNews: Jude, you probably don't have a need for that just yet?

Mr. Boudreaux: It would be nice to have in-the-office. I do store my files digitally, keep as little paper as possible and back that all up online using a secure service, called Jungle Disk, that I use for my entire home server. But I also have been working with clients using the project management tool called Base Camp that allows us to manage future dates, to-do lists and correspondence, along with sharing files with one another. So I use this version.

And then as far as quarterly reports, that's one of those things that just isn't my problem, because I am not the asset manager. It's very nice to let them all deal with it and give me a copy once they are done. But I'm not the one that has to worry about generating those.

Mr. Redfield: There is also a company, Box.net, which not only is secure — we are trying it for a couple of clients — but you can actually put their quarterly report on there. They can actually access it, and instead of coming as one big encrypted file, they can see the individual sections easily. You can control who sees it and how they get it, and it will take quite a bit of information.

InvestmentNews: Let's get back a little bit to portfolio management. Would you contemplate moving to some of the new stand-alone portfolio systems or re-balancing systems that are out there and if not, why? Is it sort of like CRM — where you have such an amount of data in your database on your clients that it would just be next to impossible to migrate — or might it be worth your time if some of the providers don't put in some new technology soon?

Ms. Lowell: Our office prides itself at being at the forefront of technology — which is both a blessing and a curse. In the eight years that I have been here, we have gone through three portfolio management systems. Like Lee, we were originally with dbCAMS. Then we were with Adviser Mart, which was bought by Techfi and Advent. And now we are with PortfolioCenter. But we use the web-based version via Schwab Portfolio Technologies, which is essentially a third party previously called eTelligent but now again owned by Schwab. So I think what you are seeing is this pattern, if you will, where great technology that kind of starts out as an independent, if adopted by many advisers, is oftentimes then purchased by these larger custodians because they want to be able to provide a great integrated solution.

And so I think the challenge is, if you are using an independent software, the notion is that it may actually be brought under the umbrella of one of the larger firms anyway. And we have faced something similar. We use iRebal, which is now owned by TD. So what we are seeing is, we try to use what we think is the best product for us. So we are not necessarily afraid of making a change, but it is not a painless process.

Mr. Redfield: We actually considered moving out of dbCAMS until Morningstar bought them. When that happened, it changed our perspective for the time being.

We probably would have gone with PortfolioCenter. Even today, when we look at what we get from both as options, just in the reporting process, there doesn't seem to be that much of a difference.

So you are somewhat tied. There is the process and cost involved, and there is the data conversion involved. So you don't want to just jump into it. But, for the time being we will stay where we are until we find something that actually reports better or makes our clients happier. But right now we are satisfied.

Ms. Lowell: And let me just tag on to that. Lee, I think one of the things you brought up was an important point — being able to customize — because you had noted something that works well for you and your clients. And I think that one of the challenges is as more of these independent companies are purchased, there sometimes are improvements, but in certain cases you lose some of the ability to customize what you are doing for clients.

I think that that is a challenge that we grapple with in our office.

WORTH THE WAIT?

InvestmentNews: Another interesting question popped up: “Are there any technologies out there on the horizon that might be in development that are worth waiting for — for instance, the Junxure cloud offering and the Schwab Intelligent Integration?” Both Lee and Sabrina are with firms that have multi-custodial relationships. You don't necessarily want to wait to adopt individual applications if you don't have to. For instance, if you have a significant number of accounts with TD Ameritrade — maybe they are your primary or secondary custodian and you are already using Veo — it's definitely worth waiting to find out what it is going to do with its own open-API project, because it is working with close to 30 independent vendors of various types, everything from core technology like CRM to financial planning to account integration and portfolio reporting systems. Once this is complete, and there are several firms that are already up and running with things, there should be the seamless passing of data back and forth to pass alerts in addition to the regular account information.

MoneyGuidePro is very popular with advisers. It has also built an integration with TD and can seamlessly pass data. It is a great model they have followed, but one where accountability seems rather opaque at this point. In other words, if you are an adviser, will you have a hiccup with MoneyGuidePro? Will MoneyGuidePro be the one that has to fix your problem, or will it be TD Ameritrade? So that aspect of things is still a little bit muddy.

But certainly, once those integrations are built, it is going to be a really interesting time for advisers to be able to go out and cherry-pick best-of-breed third-party applications, at least with TD Ameritrade as a custodian. That's yet to be seen, really, with Schwab Intelligent Integration. Certainly Junxure's cloud offering should be very interesting. They are an established player. By certain measures they have the largest market share — some estimate it's as much as 9%.

What else do you know of that is in development that you can't wait to get your hands on, or at least see how it takes off or how it pans out?

Mr. Boudreaux: It doesn't really count as software, but I'm desperately waiting for the announcement about the new MacBook Airs.

InvestmentNews: A substantial number of advisers are trying to run their shops totally on a Macintosh environment.

Mr. Boudreaux: This is another plus to being entirely in the cloud: I am free from needing to have a Windows PC to run a piece of software. And it is also a lot easier to do that now on a Mac than it has ever been before. If there is something that absolutely has to run on Windows, it is very easy to do that with Parallels or Boot Camp.

InvestmentNews: Sabrina, Lee, do you want to chime in with anything you are waiting to see launched?

Mr. Redfield: You already hit upon the one that I am waiting for — Junxure's version for the cloud. If you go back five to eight years ago, advisers didn't want to have any of their information away from their office. We seem to have moved past that, and it is my understanding that the reason Junxure didn't have something in the cloud was because its relationship with Outlook was such that the Internet speed or something like that did not work properly, which obviously they have fixed.

I like the idea of what Jude is talking about — being able to get rid of your servers. For anybody who is starting out who has a server, one of the first things I would look for is a good IT person, and they are tough to find. And not having a server? Jude has got the right idea, if you get the right components.

InvestmentNews: Sabrina, anything top of mind there?

Ms. Lowell: I would echo that. We have two office locations here in the Bay Area, but also our investment manager lives 49% of the year in Hawaii and 51% of the year up in Tahoe in Incline Village on the Nevada side. And so for us it is very important to be able to have remote access, and having more programs via the cloud just makes the physical servers less of a necessity and enables us to continue to operate virtually. So we are kind of in that same camp.

Mr. Redfield: I have two employees that are remote, one in California, one in Colorado. Putting a Logitech webcam on their computers so they can talk to everybody else in the offices is wonderful. They actually feel like they are part of a team. Skype is what we are using.

InvestmentNews: Let's quickly address a couple of questions that came in that were related back to Schwab Intelligent Integration and Junxure, and another one on CRM. Someone asked whether Junxure is part of the Schwab Intelligent Integration project. The second part of their major project — the first part being the turnkey that we talked about earlier — is called Open View Gateway. There will be two choices — one of which will be Junxure — so yes, indeed, Schwab is working with Junxure.

ARE CLIENTS ACCURATE?

The other portion of Open View Gateway has as a centerpiece Microsoft Dynamics. Someone asks whether Dynamics is a good program. It is highly used, but is not necessarily going to cater to the needs of individual advisers.

PreciseFP is a little service that basically allows the client to put in his or her own data. Are there tools — either that, or things similar to that — which have made your lives easier?

Mr. Redfield: I can tell you that PreciseFP works very well. And we never thought it would, because clients normally don't want to fill out forms. But they don't have a problem doing it this way.

Mr. Boudreaux: My view of that, as someone on the other side who dwells a little more on the emotional side of money than necessarily the dollars and the cents, is that there is a lot of danger in just having people give you that information without having the conversation about it. I think it is like being on that first date when you are out and talking for hours and you are learning about their brothers and sisters and family members. It feels like, to me, in the financial planning process — that is the fact finding.

And so if we automate that whole bit — and I love technology — I have real concerns about how that actually works in practice.

InvestmentNews: Sabrina, anything along those lines that you can add?

Ms. Lowell: We haven't used PreciseFP but we have looked at kind of different models in terms of efficiency in collecting data. Similar to what Jude is talking about, unless we are the ones collecting that data from the client directly and inputting it in the planning software or into our system, it is difficult to know the accuracy of it. But I do love the idea, as Lee was saying, of some way to be able to collect that data more efficiently because a lot of clients don't want to fill out a form.

We have looked at doing more things, using online questionnaires, Survey Monkey or different online providers to collect initial questionnaire data or expense information and trying to go about it that way.

Mr. Redfield: We use it as a way to get them organized. You are not taking the information and working off that. It makes them think. And I don't want them to fill out a form that says, “This is what my portfolio is.” I want them to bring the form that tells me what their portfolio is, so it makes them think about it.

InvestmentNews: Quite a few advisers like the idea of using iPads during client meetings. A couple of you actually own iPads but were a little bit skeptical about how they can be used best in business.

Mr. Boudreaux: When I walk into a client presentation or a meeting, I don't have any paper with me other than my notebook, and by that I mean actual paper, not a notebook computer. Everything a client sees is on my iPad; that way we look at it together. We can make annotations on it if necessary, and I can e-mail them a document directly from it.

But it really simplifies for me the process of dealing with my client's paperwork and it keeps us all on the same page.

I used to always hate giving people a 90-page financial plan and then inevitably they are looking at something else while you are trying to talk about one other thing. So without having to bring a laptop computer and a projector, we can all be gathered in a small spot and looking at something together.

Mr. Redfield: I use mine basically to connect to the office so I don't have to lug a laptop around anymore. You log me in or go over my PC and you also get around the Adobe Flash problems.

INTERACTING WITH CLIENTS

Ms. Lowell: Yes, and that is essentially what I use my iPad for, as well — mostly personal — but I would love to be able to use it more with clients, and I love the idea that Jude is implementing, which is being more interactive with clients using technology.

InvestmentNews: Are you doing (a) anything in terms of actively marketing on social media or have tools that you like to use in that regard and (b) what are you using in terms of tracking what you are doing in terms of compliance?

Mr. Boudreaux: I use [social media] rather extensively. I'm very glad to be rid of [the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.'s] rein on my communication as an independent RIA. It doesn't mean I can be reckless. It does mean I have a lot more latitude to say what I want to say and engage in conversation with people.

If I can recommend two books for people who are interested in exploring social media for business, one is “Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust,” by Christopher Brogan and Julien Smith (John Wiley & Sons, 2009), and the second is ““UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging” by Scott Stratten (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). “UnMarketing” has a lot of real tangible ideas in helping people, I think, get their head around what social media is about from a marketing standpoint.

We have all been to the Chamber of Commerce or cocktail networking meeting where business cards are exchanged.

If you show up at one of those and all you do is pass out fliers, it is like using Twitter — all you do is talk about your own company. The whole point of Twitter is that it is essentially a cocktail party. I've gotten five prospective clients, one that would be my second-largest client, and hope to hear by the end of next week if they are going to move forward. But I have had five meetings with people that I didn't know before, all because of Twitter — following people locally and jumping in on conversations with them about their kids.

I've got a 10-month-old, so it's talking to them about their kid and what they are going through. Whether it's restaurants or whatever else you are interested in, just hop in the conversation just like you would at a cocktail party and start talking to those people.

It's a huge, huge plus for me in my marketing.

InvestmentNews: Lee and Sabrina, how are your firms using social media and/or what are you using to track your usage?

Ms. Lowell: We do have a Facebook page and we use it, but we don't do a whole lot of marketing though there. For us, it is just trying to decide where it is that we want to be spending our time, because there is only a limited amount of it. So that is what we are doing on that front. And our compliance department, we simply are under the [Securities and Exchange Commission], so we have a compliance officer that reviews that page.

Mr. Redfield: The only thing we use is our own website and LinkedIn, and we make sure we keep copies for our compliance file of anything that is on there which you are required [to account] for.

Mr. Boudreaux: And can I mention Arkovi real quickly? It is a company that handles all the archiving of my social media activities for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And it is really seamless — runs on the back end — and it is nice to know that somebody else has all of that backed up if I need it.

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What do you think is next for your business and the industry? We asked advisers to tell us where they were heading in the next five to 10 years. One adviser even expects a Super Bowl ad to raise awareness.

Latest news & opinion

Fidelity wins arb case against wine mogul but earns a rebuke from Finra

In the case of investor Peter Deutsch, Fidelity doesn't have to pay any compensation, but regulator said firm put its interests ahead of his.

Plaintiffs win in Tibble vs. Edison 401(k) fee case

After a decade of activity around the lawsuit, including a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, judge rules a prudent fiduciary would have invested in institutional shares.

Advisers get more breathing room to make Form ADV changes

RIAs can enter '0' in some new parts of the document before their annual filing next year.

Since banking scandal, Wells Fargo advisers with more than $19.2 billion leave firm

Despite a trying year, the firm has said it will sweeten signing bonuses for veteran advisers.

Is LPL's deal sweet enough for NPH's 3,200 reps and advisers?

They will have to decide if the signing package they are being offered by LPL makes sense. A lot is hanging in the balance.

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