Relax, clients don't want to hear from you via Twitter

New report finds the high-net-worth clients would rather communicate the old-fashioned way.

Dec 13, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

By Liz Skinner

All the proclamations that financial advisers have to master social media so that they can communicate with clients and prospects appear to have been wrong, or at least premature.

Investors — whether they have $100,000 to invest or more than $2 million — said that e-mail is their top choice for how their financial firms should communicate with them, according to new research by Cogent Wealth Reports.

Only about 1% of those surveyed chose social media as the best way for firms to reach out to them.

About 48% of those with $100,000 to $500,000 to invest, 40% with $500,000 to $2 million and 51% with more than $2 million elected e-mail as the most effective way to contact them — far higher than any other communication mode, the Cogent data showed.

Traditional communications methods came next in popularity, with snail mail, telephone and in-person visits ranking second through fourth.

“Some of the tried-and-true old-fashioned ways of communicating are still alive and well,” said Julia Johnston-Ketterer, senior director of the syndicated reports unit at Market Strategies, of which Cogent is part. “That's something for advisers to keep in mind when they are planning their communications with clients.”

Depending on affluence level, between 16% and 24% of investors said that print mailings were how they wished to be communicated with, and 13% to 21% elected for a phone call from their financial firm, according to Cogent.

About 10% to 14% of investors said that they want in-person visits with their advisers, the survey of 4,170 people with at least $100,000 to invest found.

The average age of survey participants was 53, a factor that probably had a lot to do with the results, Ms. Johnston-Ketterer said.

Based on a preliminary analysis of the data based on age, the younger generations had stronger interest in social media and other electronic communication methods such as webinars and mobile applications, she said.

Low interest in personal meetings suggests that advisers may want to use these occasions strategically to maximize their own time and make the most out of their time with clients, said Linda York, vice president of syndicated research for Market Strategies.

Advisers should also know how to host virtual conferences, something that younger clients have been shown to especially want from their financial services providers, Ms. Johnston-Ketterer said.

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