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Why I Have Chosen To Avoid Social Media in My Financial Planning Business

Daehong Kwon, CFP, Koreaby Daehong Kwon, CFP

TGIF (Twitter, Google, I-Phone, and Facebook) has brought about a lot of changes in people’s daily lives. Along with them, KakaoTalk, a mobile “app” that is enjoying a nation-wide popularity in Korea, has been making the communication between financial planners and their clients much easier. Financial planners can now promote their business through various social network service (SNS) channels and ‘smart’ devices, and spread their content widely with much ease. The ability to check emails and varied information on the go allows planners to save time, which makes a huge difference in our busy daily lives. All in all, social media and “smart” technology are adding powerful contributions to the financial planning business.

Negative Social Media Side Effects

With that assumption in mind, one must think “What are the negative side-effects of social media and technology?” One adverse effect is the possibility of unverified information being spread rapidly through app’s and mobile devices. Another issue is that stories, that one would hope stay out of clients’ excessive attention such as a shortfall of an insurance product, a problem in a financial market, a moral hazard of financial planners, and so on, could be promulgated in a day. Lastly, there is the danger of clients’ information and business secrets being hacked.

There are even more negative side effects than the ones listed above, which is expected with up-and-coming technologies. Of course, the intensity of the side effects depends on the financial planner’s individual proclivity and interest. I have stayed out of the recent trends, rarely using the new channels for business purposes. I may be an exceptional case, considering most of the young financial planners of my age are using them widely. Many acquaintances and clients often ask me to employ various social networking services. Every time they do so, I seek their understanding for why I have chosen to not use them for business purposes, at least for the time being.

Traditional Communication Works Best for Client Relationships

I understand that social channels bring more convenience and fun into life and help to get people closer. Yet, I think there is some ‘distance’ between the financial planning business I am seeking and what the social networking services offer. Although it may look a bit inconvenient and behind the times, there still are times for traditional approach, and I personally wish to pursue my financial planning businesses in such a manner. Granted that social media makes real-time communication possible and can be employed as a powerful marketing promotion tool, enhancing both clients’ convenience and financial planners’ practices, I am still accepting the deliberate inconveniences of a traditional approach. With that said, there are some useful devices that I have chosen to use for personal publicity and career management, such as blogging for Financial Planet.

So, to be more specific, I am choosing to use traditional communication for my client relationships. There are many reasons for this personal approach of mine. Among other things, I believe that important, serious cases from a business perspective should be discussed and reviewed over a sufficient span of time, rather than being dealt with in a handy, spontaneous response. This is why I still prefer talking over the phone or in a face-to-face consultation.

The Serious Business of Financial Planning

I hear that in European countries, such as Switzerland, there remain some time-honored private bankers who are still respecting old-fashioned ways, like me. They are using fountain pens with a feather, made of a brand clients like, to write personal letters to send information, talking over an antique telephone, maybe tens of years old, rather than over a smart phone, and discussing a case in a serious-milieu chamber accessible by particular clients only, rather than in a chatting room anybody can have access to. As this example is for the case of wealthy clients, of course, some may think this is too exclusive and privileged. Even so, if we consider the fundamental reasons for this old approach, we would be able to understand it to a large extent. Discussing in spontaneous, abbreviated manners through an “app” or over a mobile device such serious topics as the management of a family’s valuable assets and financial planning, or a recommendation of insurance planning for one’s family feels too “light”.

Even though it may help bring people closer to be able to look into each other’s daily lives, “follow” one another on Twitter, and have a ‘soundless’ talk in an “app”, I believe discussing each other’s future in a serious manner, somewhat heavy and tedious as this may be, and sharing the emotions and sentiments in a humane, rather than, mechanic, way agrees more with the nature of financial planning. What is certain is that from a sentiment perspective, a smart device or a social network service can hardly be a substitute for the traditional approach. This is the reason why a ‘human being’ called a financial planner is still needed, and this still, I believe, is the core value that financial life planning is seeking.

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