We recently published the results of our survey of IFAs and Financial Planners ‘pain points’ when it comes to using Social Media effectively.
We highlight some of them below, but what was also enlightening for us were the free-hand comments that many added when completing our survey, and it’s worth picking up on one or two of them.
One adviser said:
“I’m not looking for new business. I just want to be more efficient so social media can’t help me”
“My prospects don’t use Social Media”
“My network won’t let us do financial promotions”
“Marketing in 140 characters is just not viable”, and
“I’m sceptical that social media selling works”.
These are all interesting because they confirm that many (most?) in the financial advice community still view Social Media as a selling activity, and likely to resist because they still get most of their new leads through referrals from existing clients.
In fact, selling is the last thing advisers should be doing with Social Media and no wonder their compliance teams resisted its use. In fact, our research showed that many advisers who were with a network particularly struggled to get support from their compliance teams, with one saying
“Our network has an unrealistic approach and we simply can’t use Social Media”.
Compliance wasn’t however seen as the main thing holding back advisers from being more effective on Social Media; in fact it didn’t appear in the top six.
The single biggest issue cited was ‘not having a plan and not knowing how to go about putting one together’, adding that even if they did have a plan, they wouldn’t know how to get started, what content to post or where to post it.
So not surprisingly if you don’t know why you are doing a task, finding enough time to do it also becomes a big issue.
We’ve seen this before. Back office software providers for example, know that there are very real benefits to using their products, but they will only be beneficial if the adviser a) knows why they need the software and b) if they get trained to use it properly. If you don’t have a plan and you don’t know how to use the tools, time will inevitably be perceived as a problem. It’s a perfect storm.
Yet, when the adviser fully understands how the software can help their business and gets trained on it, they then see that time is the least of their concerns.
It’s the same with Social Media.
We recently listed thirty-eight possible positive outcomes from a financial adviser using Social Media. Here they are again:
- They get many more visits to their website
- They are able to improve their search engine rankings
- Prospects can build a better picture of an adviser by seeing beyond just what he or she put on their website
- They are able to reinforce themselves as authoritative and credible in (say) pensions, investment and other areas of personal financial planning
- They strengthen their reputation for trustworthiness
- They have a great way to engage with professional connections and centres of influence
- They raise their profile in their local community
- Press and media come to them for expert opinion, which gives them additional visibility online and which enhances the perception of them as having expertise in personal finance
- They are able to engage with clients beyond meetings, newsletters and reviews – including being able to cement recently made relationships with new clients
- They are first to spot opportunities to help individuals and companies that need their help
- They are quick to discover local events where they can raise their profile
- They find new opportunities to network with other people
- They are able to improve their knowledge by listening to other experts and thought leaders
- They are able to learn best practice from other advisers around the world
- They are able to get new ideas and make improvements to their business by listening to business development experts
- They are able to give their business a human face beyond traditional face-to-face relationships
- They are able to add another level of ‘wow’ to their customer service proposition
- They are able to build Community around their clients
- They are able to educate people on personal finance
- They are able to attract people to join their newsletter list
- They are able to decrease their marketing costs
- They are able to promote specific initiatives that go beyond the giving of financial advice – e.g. education, local sponsorship, public speaking etc.
- They are able to humanise a topic (financial advice/planning) which disenfranchises some people and which others distrust
- They are able to build ‘buzz’ around their business
- They improve brand equity
- They are able to significantly expand the reach of their promotions when hosting seminars and events
- They are able to give clients another way to talk to them
- They attract Internet-savvy staff to their practice
- They improve staff motivation and engagement
- They enrich their client experiences
- They gain greater insights into the things clients care about – beyond what they’ve been told in a fact find meeting
- They are able to observe their competitors
- They look busy, vibrant and active
- They are able to reinforce the ‘tone of voice’ of their business – e.g. fun, serious, professional etc.
- They are able to find and listen to niche markets where they have expertise
- People who are referred to an IFA by an existing client have another way to ‘check you out’
- They add a new service and communication methodology to their proposition
- They attract new clients
Whilst many of these uses of Social Media may result in new clients knocking on their door, most of these outcomes have positive benefits for the business as a whole. In short, they are not purely sales and marketing activities.
The truth about IFAs’ use of Social Media
In reality, most financial advisers will only attract a small number of new clients directly from their Social Media activities, though there are clearly exceptions. One financial planner told me that in 2015 he attracted clients that paid him £100,000 in fees purely through his use of LinkedIn. Others have told me that they attracted new clients through LinkedIn the very first time they used online networking techniques which I teach.
But in both these examples, the IFAs concerned followed a process and a routine which I explain at my workshops and in consulting sessions.
The truth about Social Media for financial advisers is that it is a tool to support your business processes – to do some things more efficiently, some things much faster, to complement other activities and to do some things with greater efficiency and adeptness.
In short, it helps you to do many of the things you do in your business – better.
For that reason, financial advisers should look at their Social Media profiles as assets of their business – particularly LinkedIn. And like any asset or tool that you use in your business, when you learn how to use it properly, only then will you see real benefits.
“Doing what they already do, but better” is a key goal of the most successful financial advice firms around the world and Social Media is just one tool which helps them to be better. And when people and businesses invest in themselves, they invariable attract more clients – and better ones at that.
How to move forward
In short, Financial Advisers need to have a Social Media plan, but one which is aligned to their business and its goals.
When you sit down to build that plan, these goals need to be front of mind above anything else, so we created a Social Media planning tool which helps you to do just that.
The tool is an interactive PDF template which helps you to look at your financial advice business in ways which you might not have done before, or at least not for some time.
As you work through the planner, you will be asked questions about your clients and how best you want to serve them, and through your answers you will be able to quickly identify a clear understanding of WHY and HOW Social Media can support your business goals and client proposition.
Before you know it, you will also know precisely what type of content you need to post on Social Media, the specific tools you need to use and how you will benefit. You benefit and win all round.
And it’s at this point that you realise that your Social Media profiles are in fact not just marketing tools, but more important that – they are vehicles and tools which are there to support your business and your client proposition.
When you have a clear understanding of how Social Media will support the activities you already do in your business, then time is no longer the spectre you imagined it would be because you are using it for a clearly defined purpose.
You should visit the link below, because it gives you access to our unique Social Media planning tool – and what’s more, it is specifically designed for IFA, Financial Planning and Financial Advice practices. And it works for financial advice professionals anywhere in the world.
Thanks in advance.
The single biggest issue cited was ‘not having a plan and not knowing how to go about putting one together’, adding that even if they did have a plan, they wouldn’t know how to get started, what content to post or where to post it. So not surprisingly if you don’t know why you are doing a task, finding enough time to do it also becomes a big issue.