Ready for your close-up, Mr. Adviser?

Few financial advisers are using video, but those who do see clear benefits

Nov 20, 2011 @ 12:01 am

By Lavonne Kuykendall

Call them the video vanguard.

They are the relatively few financial advisers who are using self-made videos as a marketing tool that creates a personal connection to existing and potential clients.

“Video makes you real to people and helps you build rapport before you even have a conversation with them, said Kristin C. Harad, owner of registered investment adviser VitaVie Financial Planning. “I have been able to differentiate myself very strongly because I use video.” For now, advisers — most of whom have websites and are experimenting with social media — are largely shying away from video. Typically, they are worried about the compliance issues connected with video usage or are unconvinced that anyone would want to watch them explain their financial planning philosophy — or anything else, for that matter. (See: Five quick tips for advisers considering video.) “Advisers are not quite seeing the importance of video just yet,” said Sophie Louvel Schmitt, a senior analyst with research firm Aite Group LLC's wealth management team, which recently completed a survey of adviser use of social media. In the survey, the results of which the firm expects to release in mid-December, only about 3% of advisers said that they use YouTube professionally, she said. Those were primarily “entrepreneurial” RIAs, rather than hybrid advisers or representatives with national or regional firms, Ms. Schmitt said. Those under the broker-dealer regulatory umbrella are more concerned about compliance issues than investment advisers, and they don't see a clear benefit from using video, she said. Jeff Rose saw the benefits of the medium shortly after he posted his first video, which was a short clip of him welcoming visitors to his website. “I did it because I wanted visitors to feel comfortable with me,” he said. “I got a lot of good comments.” At the time, Mr. Rose worked as an affiliate of LPL Financial LLC, and before he could post, he had to transcribe the videos, and get script and video approval from the compliance office. That took two to three weeks, he said. A spokesman for LPL Financial declined to comment. Mr. Rose was a prolific online poster, with an active blog and an online library that grew to about 80 videos. The first time he signed a client that found him because of his online presence, “my eyes opened to what this could be,” he said. This year, driven largely by his dissatisfaction with the time-consuming compliance process, Mr. Rose founded a registered investment advisory firm, Alliance Wealth Management LLC. He said that compliance isn't much of an issue, and he continues to blog and post new videos. , a vice president at Perennial Financial Services LLC, an LPL affiliate, thinks that compliance can be managed. “Everyone believes there are hurdles, and there are, but as long as I have a transcription, videos are treated the same as a written post,” said Ms. Castro, who has posted a series of videos around the theme of women's financial issues. Watch Ms. Castro's video:

START WITH YOUTUBE

SHYING AWAY

Ms. Harad has a second business, next10clients.com, at which she coaches advisers on video use. RIAs, who face the fewest restrictions, are the most open to using video, she said. At a minimum, she thinks advisers should have an introductory video on YouTube, which she said is the second-largest search engine, after Google.

“People love to watch videos,” Ms. Harad said.

Watch Ms. Harad's video:

Some big firms actively encourage their advisers to get involved.

Steve Biermann, chief marketing officer of Northstar Financial Services Group, said that his research indicates that visitors to adviser websites would rather watch a market commentary video than read a report.

“Video market commentary is going to be big,” he said.

His firm has a production studio to film videos, and offers training to its 1,500 or so advisers.

“Video can be a powerful way in which to market and create a connection with clients and prospects,” said Anita Fox, spokeswoman for Schwab Advisor Services, a unit of The Charles Schwab Corp., which also encourages the use of video.

BIGGER FOOTPRINT

Lee Johnson, president of Bigfoot Investments, which markets investment management services to financial advisers, sees increased interest in video usage from advisers. The firm posted a video on the company's home page that explained its service through a four-minute vignette about an adviser who had to break the bad news to a couple that their portfolio had plummeted in value.

“A lot of advisers have asked if they can use the video on their own site” with the Bigfoot company name removed, said Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Rose believes the best way for an adviser to establish a video presence online is to make a short video introducing his or her own site. His 45-second introductory video got more than 20,000 hits, which he said is indicative of how people surf the web today. Mr. Rose also made a YouTube video with suggestions on how advisers can use video.

Equipment doesn't need to be fancy, he said, although he recommends that advisers use a quality microphone and tripod to get good sound and picture quality. On his video, he prices out his equipment at a few hundred dollars.

As far as the look or pacing of the video, Mr. Rose suggests that advisers “go on YouTube and see how others are doing it.”

“Some say the best videos are the result of just picking up a little camera, not the slick Hollywood kind of thing,” Mr. Johnson said.

Email Lavonne Kuykendall at lkuykendall@investmentnews.com

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