Advisors in the business just 15 years ago will remember when the whole world suddenly was using e-mail—except for financial advisors.
The Internet had taken the economy and society by storm, Internet stocks were fueling an investment industry boom, yet advisors were making phone calls and sending out letters because regulatory compliance had not yet caught the wave.
Eventually all that got resolved, and now Jennifer Openshaw wants to help the industry overcome its current diffidence about using social media.
Last month, the serial entrepreneur launched Finect, an online network meant to ease communication between financial advisors and their clients, prospects and colleagues while letting their compliance officers take the day off.
Here’s how it works: In one fell swoop, the advisor can share content with followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter—thus cutting down the time involved in staying social. Meanwhile, merely by checking a few boxes, the compliance officer can permit allowable communications in advance and know that everything will be tracked and archived for a period of five years, as required.
“This is about moving the industry forward—about enabling the industry to operate in an online world,” said Openshaw (right) in an interview with AdvisorOne.
“We wanted no barriers to using this,” she added, noting the one-stop social platform is free to advisors, though a premium service is available by subscription.
Further eliminating barriers, the site automatically populates an advisor’s profile with information from the other social sites such as LinkedIn and verifies their status as registered investment professionals.
The site is also open to individual investors who may be looking for an advisor. Openshaw cites an advisor who started a group whose name, Impact Investing, got picked up by an interested investor who had a google alert on that term.
A survey last year conducted by ING Direct showed that 4% of advised social media users are connecting with advisors through social sites, but importantly, that 52% would interact with their advisors through social media.
Finect is helping advisors to do just that. For example, Openshaw mentions an advisor who wants to build his brand around his Social Security expertise who just launched an open group from which he distributes content and engages around Social Security.
That same advisor also started a closed group for select followers called “Free-Advice Fridays.” Members of the group can see the advisor’s response to group members’ questions.