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Why, and How, Advisors Should Podcast: TD Ameritrade

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Advisors who aren’t using podcasts and flash briefings to communicate with their clients should seriously consider doing so because they can be enormously effective, especially when reaching out to affluent clients and prospective clients, according to TD Ameritrade.

After all, affluent clients and prospects are listening to podcasts, according to the firm, which pointed to data indicating that 45% of monthly podcast listeners have an annual household income over $75,000.

Voice is arguably the oldest method of electronic communication, Dani Fava, director of institutional innovation, product strategy and development at TD Ameritrade Institutional, said Wednesday during the webcast “The Power of Voice, In Good Times and Bad.”

Podcasts and also flash briefings, which are short informative pieces of prerecorded audio, are among the voice options that advisors have at their disposal. They can also use smart speakers and voice assistant devices, including those powered by Alexa or Siri voice control, Fava noted.

Getting Started

“TD Ameritrade really got into the voice arena last year,” she said, noting the firm “realized that this is just a growing space — an emerging trend.” The firm noticed, for one thing, that finance is an increasingly popular use case when it comes to smartphone voice assistant productivity, she said, pointing to data showing consumers are increasingly using those devices to conduct banking or manage their finances.

She cautioned that if you are an advisor who tends to only communicate with clients via email, FaceTime or some other form of video conferencing, that means “the only time you are interacting with your clients is when they are sitting in front of a screen.” It is a good idea to avoid “screen lock,” she said, adding: “We wanted to be in our users’ ears while they are doing things that they enjoy” and ask Alexa for their balances and positions while they are making dinner or drinking coffee, as examples.

Fava conceded she was not a voice expert and the firm “had no idea” how to enter the voice arena. Therefore, she and Vanessa Oligino, managing director of business performance solutions at TD Ameritrade Institutional, teamed up to find a solution for advisors to communicate with clients via voice, Fava said. The two of them started subscribing to flash briefings using the TD Ameritrade Alexa app, she noted. In the process, she learned what kind of information she wanted to hear and what she didn’t like, and that gave the firm ideas on what it wanted to do and not do with its own voice solutions, she said.

“I suggest you do the same thing,” Fava suggested to advisors, noting those interested in starting a podcast should start listening to existing podcasts to see what they like and don’t like. Fava and Oligino also gathered a pilot group of advisors together to find out what content they were interested in, Fava said, suggesting advisors looking to start their own voice solutions do the same thing with a select group of their clients to test the waters.

Based on what TD learned, Fava provided one more bit of advice to advisors looking to dip their toes in the voice waters: People want “brevity, levity, and familiarity,” so “be brief, get to the point — nobody wants to listen to a 20-minute flash briefing while they’re drinking their coffee.

“Keep it light, have some fun” while trying to “make a personal connection” with listeners, she continued, adding users “want to know more about you,” so “it’s a great idea to bring in your personality and something about yourself to your podcast or flash briefing.”

Prosperity By the Pint

Brice Carter, chief investment officer at advisory firm Financial Strategies Group, and Allie Frase, its marketing director, are among those who have found success using podcasts in their businesses to broaden their reach in both the current and pre-COVID environment, according to TD Ameritrade.

“Brice and Allie have successfully launched a podcast series that has developed quite a fan base,” Oligino pointed out. That podcast is “Prosperity By The Pint,” which bills itself as a service that provides “Business, investing, and beer talk for Generation X and millennials.”

A regular podcast had been something Carter wanted to do for a while, he said, noting he was among the advisors on the TD Ameritrade pilot of flash briefings. He was reluctant to bring it up to his team initially because he knew there would be a lot of work involved, he told listeners. However, his team brought it up first and he volunteered to create the podcast, he said, explaining he wanted it to provide a younger audience with a basic financial education. Because he wanted it to be “super authentic,” he conceded: “I curse a little bit on the podcast because I do that in my real life.”

Financial Strategies Group saw a “huge spike” in listener numbers during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 shutdown, with the number of weekly listeners about doubling in the first three weeks, he went on to say. The focus of the podcast content shifted to issues related to the pandemic, including the current market, what a bear market is and how long they tend to last, he noted, adding the number of listeners jumped when he did that.

However, if advisors are hoping that podcasts might be some magic potion to lure new clients, they might want to think again, based on Carter’s experience to date. While he got “a couple of referrals” through the podcast, Carter said he believed he would have added them as clients even without the podcast. It’s best to think about podcasts as a great way to keep in touch with all of an advisor’s current clients.

The “biggest challenge” so far was figuring out exactly what to talk about on the podcast after about the first 45 episodes, he said, adding if you use video with your podcast, you should put it on every platform possible, including YouTube. However, “we’ve gotten the most interaction from Facebook,” he said.

There have been about 4,300 downloads of the firm’s podcast to date, according to Frase, who added that includes about 34 unique listeners, there are 60 episodes so far and it’s available on multiple platforms.

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