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Tips for Prospecting During the Pandemic: Fidelity

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Don’t wait for a return of pre-pandemic times when prospecting for clients involved in-person meetings or events. Embrace instead all the multiple channels you can — email, social media, video and phone — and enhance your firm’s website, including the creation of a digital content library, to expand your business.

That’s the message from a new Fidelity survey of just over 400 financial advisors — RIAs, IBDs, and wirehouse brokers — conducted in May. The advisors who had the most success at prospecting during the first few months of the pandemic used a multi-channel approach to prospecting.

Seventy-four percent of those advisors reported average or above-average results at prospecting. Two-thirds of advisors surveyed, however, reported reducing their prospecting during the first three months of the pandemic and about half of those advisors reported below-average results. Advisors who enjoy working from home rather than in the office were less likely to reduce their prospecting.

(Related: Prospecting: Everyone’s Looking for the Silver Bullet)

“You can’t wait for the world to come back to face-to-face,” says David Canter, head of Fidelity  Institutional’s RIA and family office operations. “This is a business where if you’re not growing you’re dying,” Canter tells ThinkAdvisor. He views the pandemic and the market volatility it has brought as a “catalyzing event” for advisors to attract new clients.

“Now more than ever there is a bull market market for advice,” says Canter, noting this includes not only advice for financial plans and investments but for many other “inputs,” such as information about diagnostic therapies and vaccines and the CARES Act including its Paycheck Protection Program. 

The pandemic is also a catalyst for advisors to embrace more digitally focused business development strategies. Although 90% of the advisors surveyed reported using at least one digital marketing tactic, many indicated they lack the skills and resources needed to develop an effective digital marketing strategy, according to the Fidelity survey.

With that in mind, Fidelity has developed an online guide Diving into Digital Markets, which has 10 modules to provide advisors with ideas on how to develop and deepen connections with current and prospective clients virtually, via email campaigns, online advertising, social media and digital content. The online guide also includes a road map and checklist to develop an integrated marketing program and ideas on how to turn a company website into a lead-generation tool. 

“This is the time to engage in a virtual world,” says Canter. “The tools are all there.” And the contacts for prospecting remain the same: existing clients; accountants, estate attorneys and other so-called centers of influence, according to Canter.

The telephone remains the most used channel for prospective among all advisors, but video, social media and email are also being used for that purpose especially among younger advisors, according to the Fidelity survey. 

About half of advisors under 35 reported using video when prospecting for new clients while 41% reporting using social media. 

Fidelity believes many of the changes implemented when communicating with clients and prospects during the pandemic will “become foundational for advisors,” according to its press release.

“The firms that embrace the need to be engaged and engage digitally are going to be ones that will probably probably grow at a higher rate than others,” says Canter, adding that mastering the ability to host a great zoom meeting could help.

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