Like it or not, it is imperative that advisors all have a strong digital presence today, according to Michael Kitces, head of planning strategy at Buckingham Wealth Partners.
“At some point between” when a client meets an advisor in person for the first time and “when they sign for you to be a client, they are going to pull out their smartphone and Google your name,” he said Thursday during the Pershing/BNY Mellon webcast “How RIAs Combine Best-in-Class Technology with Smart Marketing.”
And they will do that if only to make sure you’re not Bernie Madoff’s “lesser-known partner that they didn’t catch the name of originally” after he was arrested for his massive Ponzi scheme, Kitces noted.
“It’s just a fundamental level of due diligence that even the people who get referred to you are going to” do, he said, adding they want to “make sure you aren’t a criminal” and that you are a “legitimate, bona fide, credible professional.”
Kitches warned that “if you don’t show up digitally in a way that makes you recognized as a bona fide, legitimate, credible professional, all that ends up happening in practice is you get a referral and you never hear from them.”
He pointed to a recent survey in which clients were asked how often they made referrals to their advisors. At many firms, upwards of 70% of clients said they had made referrals in the past year, but advisors indicated that only about 20% of their clients had done so.
“You never even see the referrals you strike out on because they try to scope you out online and make sure you’re a credible professional and they weren’t impressed enough with what they saw to even follow through on the referral,” he told viewers.
“Smartphones and Google searches are too ubiquitous” to avoid, and people are using them for “anything we’re buying” now to “make sure we’re not about to make a decision we’re going to regret,” he pointed out.
Megan Carpenter, CEO and co-founder of financial services communications firm FiComm Partners, pointed to a study in which the average person referred to a business has “seven touch points with you digitally before they ever speak to you, and that just reinforces Michael’s point,” she said.
“Being digital first just very simply is showing up where people are — and people today are on their phones,” she added.
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