Advisers overestimate how 'personal' client relationships are

More using social media to stay in touch with clients, keep up to date

Mar 26, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

By Liz Skinner

Even as more financial advisers reach out to clients daily through social media, advisers think their relationships with clients are much closer than what clients think.

When asked in a recent survey about their relationships with their clients, 67% said they have a “personal relationship” with those who they provide financial advice and products. However, only 38% of high-income investors described their relationship with an adviser as “personal,” a separate survey found.

“Our research suggests that financial advisers need to focus on better understanding their clients' views and objectives to foster closer, more trusting relationships,” said Alex Pigliucci, global managing director of Accenture Wealth and Asset Management Services, which provides consulting services to financial firms.

Accenture conducted both surveys. In its poll of 400 U.S. advisers that was released today, Accenture found that about 48% of financial advisers communicate daily with clients via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Roughly 59% of advisers said they use it to get answers to clients quickly, 58% use it to reach out more to referral sources and 58% use it to keep up-to-date on industry news.

Advisory firms' social-media strategies need to focus on making digital interactions with clients more meaningful, Mr. Pigliucci said. For example, advisers need to pay better attention to what clients are posting, tweeting or otherwise putting out into the public domain, he said.

Some wirehouses are investing in technologies whereby an adviser may receive desktop alerts of what's going on in a client's social network, such as new connections or even financial changes from data publicly available, he said.

Additionally, advisers should be sharing relevant articles or posts through Twitter or a Facebook page instead of sending out a mass e-mail or newsletter.

“The in-person meeting, phone calls and even e-mails are being drowned out by social-media communication,” Mr. Pigliucci said. “Advisers need to be present in that flow of information so they are top-of-mind to their clients.”

Another disconnect between advisers and affluent investors is that advisers tend to think their clients want to invest more aggressively than they do, particularly with millennials, who have the most conservative attitudes about investing, Accenture found.

Nonetheless, many advisers have been successful using social media to build their business. About 50% of advisers said they have used the tools to attract prospects who they have turned into clients, the survey said. About 40% of those advisers said they have attracted new clients through Facebook, 25% through LinkedIn and 21% through Twitter.

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