News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community
A whopping 90% of the mass-affluent investor pool is online and 44% of them are actively looking for an advisor
May 9, 2013 — 6:51 AM UTC by Lisa Shidler
Brooke’s Note: If you’re like me and have doubts about social media, this is the kind of article that may make you think twice. I sent two tweets (beyond our auto-tweets of new articles) this week and intend to send more. No snickering, Pat Allen. See: Why RIAs would rather go to Twitter than talk to a wholesaler.
H. Jude Boudreaux spends just 30 minutes a day on social media sites but in the last two years, he’s gotten eight new clients who found out about him from social websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
That’s a big deal for a small firm. Boudreaux started Upperline Financial Planning LLC in New Orleans in 2010 and that brings his total of clients to 40.
Boudreaux, 35, doesn’t want to spend money on marketing and has found his niche interacting with people on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. See: What three highly wired financial advisors have to teach us about social media.
“I think you have to do things from a marketing standpoint that you enjoy, and I enjoy it here and I’m comfortable and it works for me,” he says. “If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t do it, but I enjoy it. Social media is a fantastic way to market yourself to new people.” See: 6 ways that RIAs can hone their expertise in social media by acting more like journalists.
A recent study from LinkedIn confirms what Boudreaux has discovered on his own: Investors are finding and selecting advisors by using social-media sites. The study shows that nearly nine in 10 mass affluent — defined as individuals with $100,000 to $1 million in investible assets — say they’re highly engaged with financial companies and that 44% of them engage with financial companies on social media.
The study shows that mass-affluent and even uber-wealthy individuals are using social-media sites to investigate financial firms and ultimately to make a final decision on which firm to choose.
In fact, LinkedIn executives say RIAs were the first to embrace social-media sites, and many of them who have been active for the past few years have started to see their efforts pay off. The online study in March canvassed 500 U.S. mass-affluent investors whose investible assets range from $100,000 to $1 million show that many of these investors use social-media sites to research advisors. See: Top 10 tips for the 'social’ financial professional when creating your LinkedIn profile.
The study found that nearly 2 in 5 mass affluent investors use social media for financial education or research, says Jennifer Grazel, LinkedIn’s lead executive for financial services. She feels there’s clearly a growing appetite for investors to use social media as part of their decision-making process, but she says RIAs have a head start over other financial services arenas such as brokers.
“RIAs were the first adopters,” she says. “What’s unique when you think about an RIA is sites like LinkedIn are completely tailored to them.” See: Early adopters of social media, RIAs are growing disenchanted with its power to drum up new business.
Five minutes here and there
While some wirehouse advisors worry about joining social-media sites because of compliance concerns, many RIAs feel confident in posting, and this has given them a jump on marketing compared with wirehouses advisors and others who just recently have gotten the go-ahead on some of these sites. See: Lost in limbo: How and why compliance officers can seem to thwart RIA marketing efforts.
Boudreaux feels he can effectively market his firm throughout the day when he’s got a few minutes to tweet, or post something on LinkedIn. He makes a point of networking with people in and around his city of New Orleans.
“There are other ways to market yourself, but for me I do it in bite-sized chunks, five minutes here,” he says. “I’ve developed a presence on Twitter. It’s something that I enjoy and I’ve invested some time in, and it’s a matter of keeping a presence going and being smart about how you do it.” See: Lost in limbo: How and why compliance officers can seem to thwart RIA marketing efforts.
He uses LinkedIn and Twitter as well as Facebook, but says he feels each site has different purposes. He feels LinkedIn is great as a Rolodex of sorts for people to learn more information about others and Twitter is much more interactive, and to gain a voice on Twitter, advisors need to show off their personality
He thinks some advisors shy away from Twitter because they don’t want to share much about themselves. “I think people are afraid to have a voice, and you need to be willing to share who you are,” he says.
Cathy Curtis, of Curtis Financial Planning in Oakland, Calif., has used LinkedIn and Twitter for many years and says she too shows off her personality on Twitter. And, in recent months she’s gotten three prospective clients through social-media sites.
She posts a numbers of articles and comments on LinkedIn, and her postings even caught the attention of LinkedIn executives. She works hard to build a niche of clients who are mostly women in the San Francisco Bay area. About 65% of her 45 clients are women. See: One Santa Fe woman’s female-centric approach to advice is attracting clients to her iconoclastic RIA.
“I’m probably the most active on Twitter. You have to be active on Twitter or people will forget about you. Whereas, with LinkedIn, I’m always there, and my goal is to have prospective women clients find me on LinkedIn.”
Grazel says she learned of Curtis because she was one of the first advisors to actively embrace LinkedIn and was one of the most active.
Curtis says her early success on social media sites has given her a mini-celebrity status letting her give speeches at industry conferences. “It was great to be an early adopter,” she says. She has just 45 clients on her own but her firm recently merged with
with ClearRock Capital, LLC, a Boise, Idaho, RIA with $350 million in assets.
Alan Moore, 26, just founded his own RIA in October 2012 after working with Rick Kahler of Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, South Dakota. Moore says when he struck out on his own he had many questions about starting a new business and the social- media sites have helped him build industry connections. He’s able to reach out to other advisors on Twitter with a question about something like technology or rebalancing and have an answer in minutes.
“I know more than 50 planners, many of whom I’ve never met in person, and I get a lot of my industry news from Twitter,” Moore says. See: Most provocative tweets of the RIA week.
Moore, who started Serenity Financial Consulting LLC with locations in Milwaukee and Bozeman, Mont., and has 25 clients, concedes that he isn’t a “power networker.”
“I don’t cold call and I don’t even warm call,” he said. “If I answer a question someone asks on Twitter or LinkedIn, then I move on. I market to people who are looking for an advisor, and I don’t have the time or energy to convince people that they need my services.”
Yet Moore feels he’s gained a presence in the industry simply because of his ongoing social-media activity. “I’ve only been around three years, but half of the NAPFA advisors know me because I’m able to network on social media sites.”
He’s gotten a handful of new clients from social-media sites but admits it’s hard to know exactly which site attracted the prospects because many of them comment about his blogs. He tweets about his blog, mentions it on Facebook and also posts it on LinkedIn.
“Clients don’t remember how they found out about me — if it was Facebook, LinkedIn or something else. I do know that my blog content has brought folks to learn about me.” See: Advisor Tested: How LinkedIn can truly build your business and not just feed your ego.
The majority of his work consists of hourly financial planning.
Not one new client
Moore’s previous boss, Kahler, has had a different experience with social media. He says he has not gained one new client from social media despite the fact that he’s logged in more than 6,000 tweets in the past few years.
“That said, 50% of my clients say they found me on the Internet,” he says. “This comes from searches, NAPFA referrals, my blog and maybe some social media. It’s hard to fully ascertain exactly where. But I’ve not had anyone say they started following me on Twitter and was so impressed with my rankings that they want to become a client.”
Still, he finds it’s helpful to be on social media. “In part, it’s how a growing number of my clients stay in touch with me and my current thinking.”
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