"Exploring the Social Media Networking and Media Landscape"

Financial advisors should learn about social media, whether or not they participate. 

“Exploring the Social Media Networking and Media Landscape,” a presentation by John Stone of Revenue Architects, got advisors talking at the Schwab Impact conference. Stone looks at social media with an eye to how they can help grow revenues. You can view Stone’s slide show below.

Thanks to Kristen Luke for suggesting John as a speaker and Bill Winterberg for sending me to the Impact 2009 slides, where I initially discovered John.

My top tips for LinkedIn newbies who want to attract financial clients, referrals, and jobs

LinkedIn is gaining power as a source of clients, referrals, and jobs, just as websites have become essential for companies. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, it’s almost if you don’t exist. 

In its most basic form, LinkedIn can be a gentle, low-key way of reminding people that you exist. You can also use it to meet new people. These are my main goals for LinkedIn. It has generated some business for me, but NOT as the result of my aggressively asking for it.

In this post, I share my personal top tips for raising your profile using LinkedIn.

1. Put up a profile, any profile

Just list your name and geographic location and geographic location if you’re not sure what information you want to share. If a former client remembers you from your last job at a different investment management firm, LinkedIn provides an easy way for them to find you. 

2. Flesh out your profile and show your personality

After I filled in the basics, I gave my LinkedIn profile a makeover, following the advice in Guy Kawasaki’s “LinkedIn Profile Extreme Makeover.” The main idea is to give more of a sense of who you really are in your profile. If you’re a LinkedIn novice, you should also read Kawasaki’s “Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn.” 

3. Link with others to stay in touch

You must build your network on LinkedIn to get maximum benefit. If you’re comfortable with LinkedIn’s security, you can let it access your email address books so it can identify your contacts who are already on LinkedIn. Then you can send them an invitation to connect.

After you connect, your contacts will automatically see your very recent updates on their LinkedIn home page. This is a big advantage in keeping you “top of mind” as a potential service provider, referral recipient, or employee. 

4. Update your status

On your LinkedIn home page, have you noticed the box that says “Share an article, photo, video or idea”? Updating this box regularly is one of the most valuable steps you can take. I know because I’ve actually gotten work from a client who was inspired by my update to contact me.

If you’re a blogger, it’s a great idea to link to a blog post from this box. Are you an advisor? You could mention an interesting article you’re reading or a new white paper on your firm’s website (but check with Compliance first). If you’re a job hunter, be wary of sounding desperate. It’s better to mention some positive activity you’re engaged in rather than to say repeatedly “___ is looking for a job as a research analyst.”

Here’s one of my updates as a sample: 
Susan blogged: Statistics to calm nervous investors: Research on dollar cost averaging http://bit.ly/qKf3p 

5. Participate in LinkedIn Groups 
Participating in LinkedIn Groups and asking and answering questions on LinkedIn will also raise your profile.  Plus, what you learn from others can help you do your job. I’ve found data and people to interview through LinkedIn.

NOTE: This post was updated on 12/15/18 for changes in LinkedIn.


Which social networking sites do you use to promote your business?

Investment and wealth managers, which social networking sites do you use to promote your business or your career? Please answer the poll that will run in the right-hand column of my blog until a date in May 2009.

If you’re not familiar with the sites I’ve named, here are links to their home pages:

Are there other social networking sites that you’d recommend to investment and wealth managers? If so, please name them in a comment to this blog post. 

I’ve been using LinkedIn for awhile, but am a recent convert to Twitter. Initially, I hated Twitter. But I’ve been impressed by how many new connections Twitter has made for me. I mostly ignore the other social networking sites.

Related posts:

My top five tips for financial advisors dipping their toes in the Twitterverse

Every day more of your clients, prospects, family, and friends get on Twitter. If you’re ready to dip your toe in the Twitterverse, here are the top five tips from my personal experience.

1. Use Twitter Search to check out Twitter before you begin tweeting. Go to http://search.twitter.com and type in your company name or other keywords that interest you. For example, you could type in “Fidelity Investments.” Even if you don’t start tweeting, you can set up ongoing Twitter searches, similar to Google Alerts, and have them delivered to your RSS reader. By the way, if you need motivation to research your company on Twitter, read “Commonwealth Bank all a-Twitter over mortgage approval tweet.”

2. Find interesting people to follow after you set up your Twitter account. Reading their tweets will help you understand how people use Twitter. If you’re a financial advisor, here are some folks who may interest you
* Bill Winterberg, technology specialist for financial planners and the writer of “Yes, Financial Planners Can Benefit from Twitter,” which helped put me on Twitter
Russ Thornton, financial planner and investment advisor
* Kristen Luke, marketing consultant to independent financial advisors
* Lawain McNeil, the Advisor Blogger
* Marion Asnes, editor in chief of Financial Planning magazine
* Cathy Curtis, owner of financial planning firm focusing on women and money

Also, look to see who’s followed by people you respect. For example, I believe I discovered Kristen Luke when Bill Winterberg directed a tweet at her. By the way, Kristen has written “Twitter Your Way to New Clients, Part One” and “Part Two.”

3. Learn the nitty-gritty of how to tweet. I like “Getting Started on Twitter” on the Tech for Luddites blog written by Elizabeth Kricfalusi. There are lots of social media gurus out there. Many of them are good, but few are as consistently helpful as Elizabeth with my technical questions. She gives great step-by-step instructions for non-technical people like me. 

4. Interact with people on Twitter. The people who get the most out of Twitter interact with others on Twitter. They answer questions posed by other folks on Twitter or get a conversation going in some other way. The few times I’ve posted questions on Twitter, I was surprised by how quickly I got answers. 

5. Figure out why you’re on Twitter, so you can plan your time–and tweets–accordingly. But be prepared to adjust your expectations. I got on Twitter to promote my blog. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve learned from people on Twitter. I hope I can give back as much as I’ve gotten.

If you dip your toes in the Twitterverse, let me know how it goes. Also, feel free to leave your Twitter tips–or questions–in the comments. I’m still a Twitter novice, so I can learn from you.

December 2010 update about AdvisorTweets:

Thanks, Pat Allen, for the following reminder.

Great advice then and now but may we add one source to your list? On AdvisorTweets.com, which launched in September 2009, we’re aggregating the tweets of U.S. based financial advisors. We encourage advisors new to Twitter to let us know via email or start following our Twitter account @AdvisorTweets–we’ll add those who are using their accounts for business purposes to our database, which should help build their following.

Related posts:
* What the heck is Twitter?
* Should stock analysts use Twitter?
* Compliance makes social networking tougher for registered reps than for RIAs

A top marketing blog for financial advisors

The market has slashed your clients’ wealth and your revenues based on assets under management. So gaining new clients is more important than ever. If you’d like to get some fresh ideas about marketing, check out Kristen Luke’s Financial Marketing Wire blog.

Are you puzzled by how to leverage social media? Kristen has posts on topics such as
* Using Facebook to build business in “A Social Media Marketing Success Story
* “How to Host a Webinar for Your Clients
* “Twitter Your Way to New Clients”–By the way, you can follow Kristen on Twitter

If you don’t like social media, Kristen has advice for you, too. I especially like this one: “Touch Your Clients 24 Times a Year without Breaking a Sweat.”  She’s delivering a webinar on the same topic on April 6.

Are there other blogs on marketing or communications that you’d recommend? Please let me know. I have a couple in mind for future posts on this blog.

MFS Investment Management is using LinkedIn to circulate commentary

MFS Investment Management has set up a LinkedIn group called MFS Investment Commentary. 

Its purpose? According to the group profile, it is “A group for financial advisors and investment industry professionals interested in getting updates on MFS’s outlook on financial markets around the world. James Swanson’s Chief Investment Strategist corner, the Week in Review, and the month Global Perspective are featured here. U.S. investment products offered through MFS Fund Distributors, Inc.”

At a quick glance, it looks as if many of the group members are MFS employees. But perhaps they haven’t publicized it yet among the professionals whom they’re targeting.

Have you noticed any other fund or investment management companies setting up LinkedIn groups? What about other uses of social networking?

Related post: Eaton Vance, Evergreen, and FRC on “Communication Strategies for Good Times and Bad”

Highlights from the Managing Retirement Income conference

The stock market’s decline has changed how individuals look at retirement income. They want more certainty. That was one of the themes I took away from the first day of the Managing Retirement Income Conference on Feb. 10. The conference was hosted in Boston by the Retirement Income Industry Association.

Some other takeaways
1. Retirees–and pre-retirees–are concerned about becoming a burden on others in retirement.
2. Advisors will have to change to accommodate Baby Boomers’ lifestyle and income needs. 
Desire for certainty vs. the cost of guarantees 
The desire for certainty means that individuals are becoming more willing to give up control of their investments in return for a guaranteed stream of income, said Robert Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA International.

Guarantees of principal or income were a theme of many product presentations at the conference. For example, Brian Perlman, partner, Mathew Greenwald & Associates, made a case for target date funds with a guaranteed minimum account balance (GMAB). He suggested that guarantees should go into effect five to 10 years prior to retirement. Perlman said a GMAB would reassure investors and make them comfortable about investing a higher percentage of their assets in equities, which is necessary to give them a better shot at meeting their retirement income needs.

The SunAmerica High Watermark Funds offer a GMAB, according to an audience member. They may be the only such funds currently on the market, though Perlman said more are in development. These funds came up again in a presentation on managed payout funds by Juan M. Ocampo, Trajectory Asset Management, subadvisor to the High Watermark Funds.

However, said Kerzner, demand for guarantees is ratcheting up just as the credit crunch and stock market decline are forcing insurance companies to reassess their risk tolerance and pricing. Synthetic annuities may be one solution, he added. Oppenheimer Chairman John Murphy, who also chairs the Investment Company Institute, said there’s a question of how much risk a provider wants to take and at what price. 
“I don’t want to be a burden” 
Financial services firms are obsessed with their products instead of meeting people’s needs, according to futurist Bruce Sterling. Old people say “I don’t want to be a burden,” not “I want a million dollars,” he added. Sterling recommended that financial professionals seek opportunities to provide “de-burdenizing” services.

Sterling posed a dilemma to the conference attendees. If you had to choose, would you rather have a really good financial advisor? Or would you rather have Google or Facebook or social networking?

Advisors must change
Many financial advisors could do a better job of communicating with their clients. According to LIMRA consumer survey research cited by Kernzer, only 15% of respondents had been in touch with their clients during the current crisis. Two-thirds of those consumers initiated the contact. 

Oppenheimer Funds is directing some of its marketing efforts to helping advisors talk to clients. Advisors want to know how to approach client reviews and start conversations with clients, said John Murphy. More communication will raise client confidence, he added.

Ann Connolly of Deloitte Consulting said that as retirement income provide more unbundled products, the role of the advisor will be critical. Individuals will look to their advisors to assemble the right package for them. But these products can be bewildering. Advisors will need modules of advice, new financial modeling tools, and consolidated retirement management accounts.


Eaton Vance, Evergreen, and FRC on "Communication Strategies for Good Times and Bad"

Mutual fund companies are ratcheting up their communications, as you might expect in challenging  times. I learned some of their strategies in a panel on  “Communication Strategies for Good Times and Bad” with speakers from Eaton Vance, Evergreen Investments, and Financial Research Corp. They spoke at NICSA’s East Coast Regional meeting on January 15.
Social media on the rise 
I was struck by how companies are using–or considering–communication tools such as webinars and social media that barely existed five years ago, back when I worked for Columbia Management Group. 

Social media is impacting every brand and how firms need to communicate, said Stephen J. Barrett, chief marketing officer and managing director, Eaton Vance Distributors. He suggested that you search for your company name on Facebook. (By the way, when I searched “Eaton Vance,” I found several people named “Vance Eaton,” but also a number of people who might be Eaton Vance employees.)

Barrett is thinking about how to leverage Facebook and other social media. “We need to enable people using social media networks to share our content and to use it build their own content.” 

None of the panelists’ firms are currently blogging, though Evergreen’s parent company, is involved in the Wells Fargo-Wachovia Blog, which allows readers to leave comments. 

Even if your companydoesn’t blog, you should be searching on its name in the blogosphere using tools such as Technorati or Google, said panel moderator Bill Blase of W.T. Blase & Associates. He has seen issues that companies could have “gotten in front of” if they’d learned about the issues through blogs.

More frequent internal communications 
At Evergreen Investments, Laura Fay, senior vice president, corporate communications, said the best time to connect with your employees is a time like now, when morale may be low, she said. Employees feel better if they hear frequently from senior management.

Evergreen is using the following tools for internal communications:

  • Monthly newsletter or business update
  • Quarterly summary of financial information
  • Quarterly video available on employee desktops
  • Town hall meetings, held in four primary locations and available via webinar; employees can submit questions anonymously

The challenges of faster communication
Companies need to communicate more quickly, which is pressuring them to get things approved quickly. “Out in two days and very, very good is much better than out in five days and perfect,” said Barrett. 

That’s not easy when you’ve got to win approval from both portfolio managers and your compliance department. “Getting out quarterly commentary can be torturous,” said Fay.

It’s also challenging to create communications that serve both financial intermediaries and their clients. Financial advisors tell the researchers at Financial Research Corporation (FRC), “don’t dumb it down,” but they want to share fund companies’ content with their clients, said Craig Kilgallen, director of FRC’s ADVISOR INSIGHT. That adds to the difficulty of getting compliance approval. Also, as Barrett said, “If you talk about negative convexity in a client brochure, you’re probably going down the wrong path.”

Compliance makes social networking tougher for registered reps than RIAs

Here’s a guest post by Bill Winterberg, CFP®, an operations and efficiency guru to independent financial advisers, who blogs at FP Pad. He made me realize that RIAs have more leeway than registered reps when it comes to social networking.

Websites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs present compliance issues for registered representatives subject to FINRA regulations. All reps must obtain approval from the broker/dealer compliance department before posting anything on the Internet, as postings a considered advertisements.

FINRA has published guidelines for use of the Internet by registered representatives of broker/dealers. It’s worth reading if you are affiliated with a broker/dealer.

The SEC has similar guidelines that govern advertisements, including postings to public Internet forums. However, investment advisers are generally responsible for self-supervision by Chief Compliance Officers. In my opinion, investment advisers not subject to FINRA regulations have quite a bit more flexibility when using Internet and social networking websites. See http://www.sec.gov/divisions/investment/advoverview.htm and http://www.sec.gov/info/iaicccoutreach.htm.

RIAs definitely have more flexibility over registered reps when it comes to the use of the Internet. However, common sense must always prevail when using the Internet to avoid publishing security recommendations or any testimonial, which are explicitly prohibited by the SEC and state regulatory authorities.