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Insights from LinkedIn, Raymond James, and Hearsay Social at the SIFMA Social Media Seminar

Another week, another successful SIFMA Social Media Seminar (#SIFMAsocial). Executives and thought leaders across the financial services industry met in New York City yesterday to explore the rapidly evolving social media space and what it means for you, our customers.

“A Conversation with Social Media Leaders” at SIFMA Social Media Seminar, from left to right: Kristin Shevis (Director, Financial Services, Hearsay Social); Jana Friedman (Senior Sales Manager, Twitter); Jennifer Grazel (Global Head of Category Development for Financial Services, LinkedIn); Jayme Lacour (Social Media Director, Putnam Investments); and moderator Steven M. Samuels (Managing Director, Strategy Execution Client Solutions and Segments Group, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, SIFMA Private Client Services Committee)

The seminar succeeded in bringing a wide and varied range of perspectives: we heard from social network executives (LinkedIn and Twitter), we heard from financial advisors (Ameriprise, Wunderlich Securities, and Raymond James), and we heard from SIFMA and FINRA themselves.

Here are a few of our best takeaways from the event:

Share content on social media to be relevant

Kicking off the day was a session featuring social media leaders from LinkedIn, Twitter, Putnam Investments, and Hearsay Social.

Many advisors value LinkedIn most among the social networks because that’s where they find their customers. That was one of many findings Jayme Lacour (@jjlacour, Social Media Director, Putnam Investments) presented from a new Putnam survey on Financial Advisors’ Use of Social Media. Twitter is also growing in usage.

Even on LinkedIn, the way advisors use the network is in flux. The first use case, according to Jennifer Grazel (@jgrazel, Global Head of Category Development for Financial Services, LinkedIn), was building a prospect base. In addition, more advisors are using the platform to stay informed through LinkedIn Today, which serves as a custom newspaper for your industry. One specific thing she noted is that broker dealers are realizing that, to be relevant on social media, they need to be sharing content.

Our own Kristin Shevis (@SheviNY, Director, Financial Services, Hearsay Social) confirmed this, highlighting it as one of the four steps to social business success: get found, grow your network, research and act on social signals, and then–through shared content–build credibility.

Show your clients you care

In an afternoon session hosted by Mike White (CMO, Raymond James Financial and Co-Chair, SIFMA Private Client Services Committee), we heard firsthand from advisors at top financial firms, including Ameriprise, Wunderlich Securities, and Raymond James.
Betsy L. Billard (@fabulousmoolah, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, Private Wealth Advisor, Ameriprise) shared a real story of how she gained new business through social media: a college connection from years ago saw that she was speaking at a SIFMA conference and connected with her on Facebook. Now he’s CMO at his company and a huge client of hers.
Andrew Bloom (@AbloomBloom, VP, Financial Advisor, Wunderlich Securities) mentioned Hearsay Social being incredibly versatile for his social media use. If he reads something interesting, he posts it through our platform. Agreeing with earlier comments from Betsy, he also said he relies on a close relationship with compliance so that he knows he’s using social media correctly.

Another advisor on the panel, Timothy McNeely (@mcneelyfs, Branch Manager, Independent Contractor Division, Raymond James), said he researches his clients on Facebook because he believes they appreciate that he takes an interest in their lives. One example: he saw a client mention on Facebook buying a piece of art, so the next time he saw her, he discussed it with her, demonstrating that he cared about her and her interests.

Compliance wants to help, not hinder

Of course, you can’t have a social media-focused financial services event without talking about compliance. Thankfully, the conversation has shifted from “how do we prevent this” to “how do we enable this in a safe and compliant manner.”

Joseph E. Price (VP, Advertising Regulation and Corporate Finance, FINRA) compared social media to another popular communications tool: the phone. When FINRA first addressed social media, some worried social networks would make it easier to commit fraud. The truth is, however, FINRA couldn’t block people from using phones any more than they could block social media. So, instead, they provide guidance.

In a later session, we heard loud and clear that the times are changing, when Melissa Callison (VP, Communications Compliance, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc) said it’s “such a good time to be a compliance officer.” More than ever, compliance wants to play an active role in enabling social media. They’re not just saying “no” anymore.

All in all, we found the SIFMA Social Media Seminar to be extremely helpful, and we’re already looking forward to SIFMA’s next event. Feel free to share your own takeaways in the comments!

Meagan Herfkens Hency

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