I was a boy in heaven. It was the mid-’80s and I was at my dad’s office, pretending to work while he caught up on client tax returns. In the corner of the supply room sat “the computer.” It looked like it had been off for quite a while. Naturally, I asked my dad to turn it on. He did.
“What’s it do?” I asked.
“It’s going to make this a whole lot easier,” he replied, waving a large paper ledger full of carefully penciled numbers in rectangles. He was right. The next year, Lotus 1-2-3 allowed his CPA firm to make more accurate calculations more quickly than ever before.
After that came Excel, new tax software, and then Quickbooks. Good accountants suppressed both their ego (“That program can’t do what I do”) and their fear (“Will my clients still need me?”). Instead, they recognized the technology for what it was – a new way to solidify relationships and expand upon the value they provided to their clients.
The same is true of technology for financial professionals today. By embracing new technologies such as social media, you can provide higher quality services to more clients in less time, with better results.
Social Media has graduated from “fun platform” to a must-use technology.
I understand. Social media is fraught with regulatory risk, silliness and pointlessness. Actually, I completely agree. That is exactly the experience that most financial professionals have had.
But that’s because they’re using it wrong. You probably are, too. Hear me out.
Insights shared on social media can help you improve your business. There’s a lot of noise out there, but fortunately, there’s some extremely valuable signal as well. You just have to know who to follow.
Vendors are sharing their technology advances and some fantastic best-practices advice. Industry leaders are providing real-world examples that will help you expand your business. Attorneys and accountants are publishing tips to keep you out of trouble.
More importantly, consumer influencers and financial experts can keep you knowledgeable about industry trends and economic currents. This allows you to better understand your clients’ portfolio movements and put yourself in a better, more educated position when discussing strategies with your more opinionated clients.
To avoid compliance issues and still reap most of the benefits associated with social media usage, I’d encourage all financial professionals to be active on Twitter. Not as a content creator, but rather as a consumer of quality information.
Social media participation can help you connect with your clients! Your clients are telling the world what they like and don’t like. They’re talking about things they are interested in, and sharing content that they find compelling. What better source of information about your clients could you ask for?
I think you should be friends with all of your clients on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. “Like” the pictures of their grandkids — get to know them better, and develop another layer to the connection they have with their financial advisor. This isn’t about you promoting yourself, this is about connecting with the people you are paid to understand.
I believe in this so much, we are busy working on product that will use social data to help advisors connect with prospects’ interests during proposals and more fully personalize the reporting process. Data gathered from social media can help you improve client returns by providing you with an edge in the market. We’ve seen this firsthand. Our entire business is built around using data gathered from social media to spot shifts and trends in consumer spending. By “listening in” to consumer conversations about brands and products, social data can accurately predict revenue and same-store-sales numbers from retailers — for example, the level of auto-buying interest in the public.
The results have been stunning.
If you actively manage some client portfolios, or if you have clients that do so in a self-directed manner, you really should check out social media analysis as an emerging source of predictive market data.
The bottom line? Social media can improve your business.
Advisors and money managers need to embrace social media as a positive technology that can help you grow your business, solidify relationships with your clients and gain an edge in the market. By being consumers first, you can focus your efforts on using social media in ways that keep compliance officers happy and your clients impressed.
Don’t be a dinosaur like the accounting firm that refused to work with QuickBooks….they’re extinct now. Instead, embrace and leverage the positive aspects of powerful new technologies like social media and thrive!