Pershing Poll: Advisors Optimistic but Struggling With Client Communication

While advisors say they are more satisfied and successful than ever, they have room to improve when it comes to social media

Kim Dellarocca, managing director, Pershing. Kim Dellarocca, managing director, Pershing.

Many advisors say they are enjoying greater success today than ever, yet a large number have a tough time communicating with clients effectively and frequently, according to Pershing.

In Pershing's second annual survey, released Thursday at the group’s Insite 2014 conference, 38% of advisors said their business was doing “better than ever,” up from 31% a year ago. 

By channel, RIAs feel strongest about their success: 41% view their practices as having robust momentum vs. 35% for wirehouse reps and 39% for other advisors.

In fact, among advisors with wirehouse and regional firms, the biggest number – 39% — say their practices are “regaining the momentum we once had,” which could reflect the impact that the financial crisis, related mergers and acquisitions and regulatory fallout had on certain firms in this industry channel.

“The number one driver of rising satisfaction among advisors is the impact they have on the lives of their clients,” said Kim Dellarocca, managing director at Pershing, in an interview. “This trumps financial gain.”

In the latest poll, 71% of advisors say that helping clients meet their financial goals is the most rewarding aspect of being an advisor, up from 66% a year ago.

(The study includes the views of 365 reps; about 100 are RIAs, 100 work for a wirehouse or regional firm; and the remainder serve as advisors for an insurance agency, independent broker-dealer or bank.)  

Client Communications

While they may be upbeat, advisors also need to find ways to improve how and when they interact with clients.

A high number of advisors reach out to clients by phone when their investments go down, 68%, or the markets go down, 58%, while only 39% call when the markets go up.

Likewise, 33% of reps will schedule face-to-face meetings with clients when investments go down vs. 21% when these same investments go up.

“Advisors often call clients around negative news and miss opportunities to call about great news,” said Dellarocca. “If advisors contact clients regularly about positive news, other calls will be less awkward.”

As in other human relationships, communication has to focus on both good news and bad, she notes. “This is what makes relationships more intimate and thus harder [for a client] to disrupt.”

Social Media

The study finds that 53% of advisors plan to increase their use of social media in the next few years.

More than half, 52%, feel that they have not invested enough time in social media, including 11% who say they do not spend enough time listening to their clients on those platforms.

Just 4% say they strongly agree with the statement, “I actively use social media to manage my personal brand.”

“With the proliferation of different touchpoints and a greater apprehension of financial risk, clients expect more frequent, tailored communications in real time, and many advisors have not yet developed a consistent communications strategy,” explained Dellarocca. 

Before posting on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, she says, it's helpful for advisors to ask why someone would like the post.

"Does it inspire? Is it interesting? Would someone be likely to forward this information or quote?" If the answer isn't yes, then the information being shared by the advisor may not be valuable to clients or prospects and thus wouldn't increase an advisor's "social capital," Dellarocca says. 

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Check out Overcome Your Social Media Objections to Grow Your Business on ThinkAdvisor.

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