Advances in technology provide wonderful opportunities for advisers to improve their client interactions and make the client advice experience more tangible and fun. Just ask yourself, what has a greater ‘wow’ factor: sitting with a client drawing a diagram on paper, or swapping an ipad with them that wirelessly projects the image onto a 55 inch display on the wall of your meeting room? And then, emailing a copy of the presentation so that it awaits them once they get home?
I know which direction our business is heading, and we get universally positive reaction from our clients. One of the greatest challenges of financial advice is its intangible nature. Using touchscreens, big displays, and integrated CMS software helps bring the whole process alive and interactive. Just as importantly, it is fun.
Similarly, social media is a brilliant way of communicating with people & building your brand. To me, ignoring social media is like ignoring the telephone. It’s a communication channel that is only going to become more popular, so why not get used to it and master it?
Social Media Builds Trust
I’ve sought to use Social Media to address the biggest obstacle there is when you first meet a prospective client: trust. Why should anyone trust a virtual stranger with their life savings, their hopes, and their dreams? In the past, we’ve relied mainly on referrals to help accelerate trust. Social media adds to this, because it allows you to broadcast your public persona very broadly, at low cost.
When I am first referred to someone, the first thing I do is search for them on Google. I want an insight into just who they are before I meet them. After that, I compare my own impressions with how they are represented on the web. The worst outcome is when I get nothing, or little substance, from a web search! (yes, it still happens). When a prospective client searches you, even before they have met you, do they get a good insight into your values and personality?
Social media is also essential in our ongoing client relationships. I believe that, increasingly, people will want to decide which medium they access us, and that this will change over time, in different surroundings and using different devices. Each contact channel needs to be quality and consistent in theme. Together the different channels combine to create a tapestry that should be congruent with your values, your message and your value proposition…but it also needs to be real, to reflect your personality.
Within the context of your regulatory regime, I would be as concerned with compliance as you are if you were having a conversation with someone. If you need to disclose something when talking with someone, make sure you disclose it in your social media. If you don’t need to disclose, relax. In fact, I would encourage you to focus less on specifics and more on values and principles.
I am not saying it is easy – in fact it will challenge almost every communication habit you have. But the rewards of embracing technological change are worth it.