Hearsay helping advisers add Instagram to social media strategies

The company hopes technology can help advisers overcome compliance hurdles

Jan 24, 2019 @ 2:45 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

Instagram is one of most popular social media networks among young people, but it isn't yet a part of most financial advisers' media toolkits.

To help out, Hearsay Systems is adding Instagram to Hearsay Social, a social media platform for financial advisers.

Donna Prlich, Hearsay Systems' chief business officer, said Instagram can help financial advisers connect and build relationships with younger investors. About 70% of Instagram's 1 billion users are under 35 years old, a demographic still evading many financial advisers.

"Advisers and agents have to connect with clients and prospects on their preferred network or channel, which for millennials and Gen X means being on Instagram," Ms. Prlich said in a statement. "With the rise of the FIRE movement — Financial Independence, Retire Early — it's easy to see that the next generation is eager to learn about concepts like fiscal responsibility, investments, and savings — and they would rather take this leap with a live person than a robo-adviser."

(More: Advisers throw cold water on FIRE movement)

But how exactly would financial advisers use an app most popular for sharing selfies, jokes or pictures of food?

Ms. Prlich said advisers can use Instagram as an opportunity to be inspirational and show millennials what they can accomplish through positive financial habits.

Priya Malani, a partner at Stash Wealth, said Instagram has "certainly" been a part of brand awareness efforts for her advice firm focused on HENRY (high earners, not rich yet) investors.

"We don't use social media on a regular basis to sell any product or service," Ms. Malani said. "Instead we use it to deliver the brand's mission, identity, values and non-specific advice."

(More: 5 easy social media resolutions for 2019)

But for many advisers, compliance remains a factor preventing them from diving into the platform. As an app built for sharing photos, it can be harder to capture and archive content than text-based posts on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

On Twitter, Matthew Ricks, an adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services, named compliance concerns as a reason he doesn't use Instagram for business. He added that he's "personally unsure how to best translate topics to pictures."

"It could be great to show more personal touches and build bonds with clients [or] prospects," he said.

Advisers like Mr. Ricks, as opposed to power users like Ms. Malani, is what Hearsay has in mind, Ms. Prlich said. In addition to archiving and other compliance functions, Hearsay will help advisers with content to share and how to appropriately use hashtags to get the content noticed.

"For folks who aren't that savvy on social media but want to get going and get comfortable, that's something we spent a lot of time considering," Ms. Prlich said.

(More: Find success with an organized social media strategy)

D. Vance Barse, a wealth strategist with Manning Wealth Management, said he doesn't use Instagram because he doesn't have software to help him archive content from the app. But something like Hearsay Social that solves the technology obstacle would make him reconsider the platform.

"In serving multi-generational families, I've observed that younger family members often aren't aware of the full range of financial planning strategies and services that are available, particularly for more complex fact patterns," Mr. Barse said in an email. "We've all seen the commercials: free trades = good & fees = bad, but there is so much more to the full planning picture, and Instagram could serve as a platform for savvy advisers to capture the massive next-gen audience."

While his typical clients aren't really Instagram users, Mr. Barse said advisers need to be thinking about the enormous wealth set to transfer from older clients to their children.

"To show value to the next gen, advisers may want to skate where the puck is going — pardon me, we're talking about Instagram, so I should have said '#skatewherethepuckisgoing,' — and that's toward #Insta," he said.

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