By Cyril Tuohy
When advisors joined the industry, they likely didn’t expect to develop into communications experts or turn into “curators of content,” yet that is what clients have forced them to become.
That’s why the most successful advisors adapt the quickest to communicating with clients through an array of channels, according to a new study by Pershing.
Email and social media have become essential in clients’ lives, the study found.
Kim Dellarocca, managing director at Pershing, said that with the proliferation of touch points, clients “expect more frequent, tailored communications in real time.”
“It is essential for advisors to understand how, where and when current and potential clients prefer to communicate,” Dellarocca said in a news release.
The survey, titled “The Second Annual Study of Advisory Success: A New Age of Client Communications and Client Expectations,” highlights issues faced by advisors and finds – not surprisingly – that those who adapt to client preference and expectations are more successful than those who do not. Pershing, part of BNY Mellon, provides support to broker/dealers, registered investment advisors (RIAs), advisors, and fund and asset managers.
Advisors need to focus their communications efforts on three areas: personal branding, social media and milestone events in clients’ lives, the survey also found.
“With client communication channels and protocols continuing to evolve, what advisors say and how quickly they respond counts more than ever,” Dellarocca said. “If they are not sure how their client prefers to communicate, they should just ask.”
The survey found that 53 percent of advisors strongly agree that their personal brand is more important than their firm’s brand. One-third of advisors don’t have a mission statement on their personal websites and a quarter of advisors do not have a mission statement on their team websites, the survey found.
Two out of five advisors do not use social media for business. However, among the three out of five who have used social media for business, 73 percent reported social media has a positive impact on business.
A majority – 52 percent – of advisors admit that have not invested enough time in social media, and 11 percent of advisors say they do not spend enough time listening to clients on social media platforms, the survey found.
Pershing’s results, summed up in a white paper, suggest advisors only need to “reasonably maintain” a social media property of their own creation to derive value from the medium. Advisors should not overextend themselves, the paper said.
Advisors might find social medial useful by touching base on the milestone events in their clients’ lives. Retirement, divorce, the birth of a child or losing a job are major life events that require changes in a financial outlook.
Even in the case of milestone events, the survey found that as many as 20 percent of advisors do not reach out to clients and that erodes the relationship.
Social media channels are perfect for keeping in touch with clients who’ve recently undergone a life event. A one- or two-sentence message either congratulating a client or empathizing with loss offers a perfect way for advisors to stay in front of a client while requiring a fraction of the effort it took 20 years ago.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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