As adviser David B. Armstrong tells it, he really got into making movies after he produced a video a couple of years ago to talk about his firm, his military experience and his dog.
The video acts as an introduction to Mr. Armstrong, a managing director and co-founder of Monument Wealth Management, a registered investment adviser affiliated with LPL Financial, and reflects his belief in the importance of posting up-to-date content on his website.
“We hired a production company to do that video for us and spent a few days on it,” he said.
That first video was followed by three more videos — one produced for each partner — and then a another clip that featured the group.
“It was a financial investment,” Mr. Armstrong said. “We posted the videos and saw that people were really watching them. It doesn't just have to be for people who want to be clients. The videos should be for everybody. So we thought about how else we could communicate with them.”
As a result, Monument Wealth Management's partners then launched a video animation series with white-board drawings of financial topics, and by the time they had finished, a company YouTube channel was born.
Monument's channel currently offers 20 different videos, with views ranging from 1,912 for an overview of the company to 34 views for a profile of the firm's business operations associate, showing her at work and off the job. The company promotes its channel on its monthly e-newsletter and encourages readers to follow Monument on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as YouTube.
A survey of 386 investors who used research and rating firm Paladin Registry to find an adviser shows that 24% of them used information found on the Internet to determine adviser trustworthiness. That information includes videos, which provide a wealth of verbal and visual cues to help prospective clients decide whether they want to work with a financial professional. And as the popularity of video grows with consumers, advisory firms such as Monument are discovering the value of connecting regularly with both prospects and clients in the digital world.
Product providers are helping advisers get there by offering video production services. For example, portfolio accounting firm Orion Advisor Services offers a service that lets advisers produce interactive and personalized videos for quarterly client statements.
Called Orion Engage, the service lets advisers either use their smartphones to capture a video and upload their work to get started or hire the talents of a video production company, whether Blu Giant Advisor Services, a division of Orion's parent company, NorthStar Financial Services Group or a third-party vendor. Advisers may choose to appear in their videos or hire an actor as a spokesperson.
Once the video is shot, Engage automates the process of letting advisers create statements with text and chart overlays specific to the client viewing the video statement. Engage integrates with other software systems so viewers can see their personal financial-planning goals via MoneyGuidePro and arrange meeting times while they're watching via Redtail Technology Inc.'s customer relationship management system.
Orion clients can upload videos to Engage and create digital statements at no additional charge. Use of Blu Giant Advisor Studios comes at an additional cost, and pricing varies. Pricing details for non-Orion customers haven't yet been set.
Eric Clarke, Orion's president and chief executive, said video allows advisers to share market views and the culture of their firm even if they can't meet with every client every quarter.
“You're able to change the mood in a video versus a static mood at the time a client opens a piece of mail,” Mr. Clarke said. “Having the ability to change a person's mind increases advisers' connection with clients.”
Engage launched in January, and by March, Orion was seeing an adoption rate of approximately 5% of the firm's 400 advisory firm clients for the April reporting cycle, Mr. Clarke said.
Jud Mackrill, director of design at Orion, said adviser interest in Engage can be gauged by the number of hits the company has seen on its YouTube video promoting the service. As of Friday, hits totaled 58,799.
Do-it-yourself advisers who prefer to make their own videos cite FPPad.com founder Bill Winterberg as a source of YouTube inspiration.
One such adviser, Dave Grant, a certified financial planner and president of Finance for Teachers Inc., said he has been posting videos to YouTube as a regular part of his financial-planning practice for the past year. The videos appear on his website's blog, where Mr. Grant talks about topics such as how to save after retirement and how to work successfully after retirement.
Mr. Grant has shot videos alone and with a production company. On one of his first forays into video, he shelled out $500 to the company for shooting and editing, and he asked a lot of questions along the way.
“I'm not going to pay $500 for every blog post I do, so I sat down and grilled the production assistant, who taught me about lighting and where to place the microphone,” he said.
Tools Mr. Grant recommends include Fiverr, which offers low-cost services ranging from animated videos from a freelancer to voice-over professionals to scriptwriters. For high-quality videos, he also recommends lighting stands with good bulbs and a shotgun mic. He attaches his mic to his Canon T3i, which also serves as his family's video camera.