Advisers finding more social media success

Planners are tweeting and posting to the web more — and many are gaining new clients from the effort

Oct 13, 2016 @ 1:37 pm

By Liz Skinner

Financial advisers are increasingly comfortable tweeting and posting to Facebook and LinkedIn as securities regulators have made their expectations about social media more clear.

Advisers are finding success using social sites to cull prospects, build their brand, communicate with clients and improve their referral network. They typically post mostly professional content, but many also share some personal information.

“My main goal with social media has been placing myself as a thought leader in my niche,” said Justin Reckers, chief executive of Wellspring Divorce Advisors.

He's on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and uses social media manager Hootsuite to quickly add content to all three with one click. He said many prospects have viewed his social media presence after someone else has referred him.

The Securities and Exchange commission recently added to its social media rules, issuing a requirement that advisers disclose their addresses or pages on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites. The new information must be listed on their firms' Form ADV, which in the past only asked for advisers to list their own websites.

The SEC began setting guidelines around social media use in 2012, when it told advisers they must retain records of their social media communications. It followed that up in 2014 with counsel on how the agency would interpret the testimonial rule in terms of social media. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. has put out similar direction over the past six years, as social media use by advisers has exploded.

Today 85% of advisers are actively using social media, up from 75% in 2014, according to a Putnam Investments survey of 1,018 advisers released Thursday.

About 80% of advisers said they are finding new clients from using social media sites, that's up from 49% in 2013. On average, those new client pick-ups have added about $4.9 million in assets, the survey found.

How advisers are using social media
Connecting with peers 64% 53% 56%
Improving my referral network 61% 62% 45%
Building my brand 52% 62% 53%
Enhancing current client relationships 50% 59% 59%%
Cultivating prospects 44% 56% 54%%
Expanding my professional knowledge 43% 42% 52%
Promoting myself as a thought leader 40% 48% 50%
Source: Putnam Investments 2016 Social Advisor Study

A majority of advisers also think social media has cut the time to close a prospect.

“The use of social media by the financial adviser community has matured to a level where it is ingrained in how business is conducted and how professionals communicate with their clients and prospects,” said William Connolly, co-head of global distribution for Putnam Investments. “Social media's role as a critical conduit for advisers in reaching the marketplace is going to continue to deepen and evolve for the foreseeable future.”

Joe Lucey, president of Secured Retirement Financial, said his firm is most active on Facebook, where it posts event news, its blog and other information for clients.

“Facebook has been a great way to communicate with clients,” he said. “We find they are learning about our events more quickly on Facebook than they do reading it in one of our emails.”

About 55% of advisers use of LinkedIn, 32% use Facebook and 12% use Twitter, the Putnam Investors' survey found.

Advisers also are combining their professional and personal worlds on social media by posting photos of their kids' soccer games, mentioning their involvement in community charities, and announcing other personal activities.

That effort to share more personal posts on social media is helping to strengthen advisers' client relationships, said Mark McKenna, head of global marketing for Putnam Investments.

Mr. Reckers said he shares some family-related posts, but stays away from issues that could get dicey, such as politics.

“My clients enjoy seeing updates about my family life outside the office,” he said.

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