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The Women Adviser Summit and The Advisor of the Future: A Few Parallels

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 1.17.00 PMLast week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the InvestmentNews Women Adviser Summit in Chicago alongside several leading women financial advisors on the panel Going Social: How Social Media Needs to Play a Role in Your Brand-Building. I spoke about the ways in which advisors can remain relevant through digital channels. During the event, I realized the many parallels between the Summit itself and what advisors of the future can do to stay relevant in a digital world.

Below are my 3 key takeaways:
1) Foster an environment for sharing to create meaningful conversations
I attend dozens of conferences each year, but what stood out for me at this particular conference was the sheer number of panel-driven discussions. In our business, we talk a lot about the importance of creating meaningful conversations with our target audience, and from what I gleaned from the conversations and ideas shared by the other panelists, having a panel-driven discussion can be so much more meaningful to determine how to engage with an audience and understanding how to use social media to drive new business, enhance your marketing, and build your brand.
What Advisors of the Future Can Do:
By comparison, in the social, mobile and web space, there is no difference – the world is full of people who are sharing content and ideas that could spark meaningful discussions. If you want to build credibility by turning content into conversation through social media channels, you have to foster an environment to have those conversations. This requires you to talk WITH your audience, not AT your audience. And by asking the right questions and challenging others, you can drive your message through conversation and create a more engaged audience.
2) Leverage digital technology to drive your message to key audiences
You know those hefty booklets you get at the beginning of a conference that you end up throwing in the recycling bin at the end of the day? Well, the Women Adviser Summit didn’t distribute any of those. Instead, to access agenda items and event information, conference attendees would have to download an app or visit the InvestmentNews website from their mobile device. In addition, questions from the audience were delivered through Twitter and an email address that the moderator was reviewing on an iPad during the event. The moderator could then pre-screen the questions and keep relevant topics moving.

What Advisors of the Future Can Do:
In a mobile world in which advisors are on the go and often communicate via their mobile device, you have to be online to stay relevant. One panelist mentioned that she refuses to send the 40-page profile questionnaire to prospects anymore – she does this all online and sometimes in-person. Why spend time documenting your practice or communicating via paper when you can have real-time conversations in-person or via social media? The advisor of the future will connect with clients in the way their customers prefer—digitally.
One of the questions I received on our social media panel was “Aren’t you worried about feedback or negative comments on your social media accounts?” Sure, social media is transparent, but also in a good way. If your client is having a poor experience, wouldn’t you want to know? If they didn’t have the digital channel to share their thoughts, you may never hear from them and they may just stop returning your calls. Now if you get several negative comments posted to your Facebook Business Page, you may want to up-level your service, but giving your clients a place to ask questions and learn more about your business will create transparency across your network and build credibility.
3) Create an environment for meaningful conversations to take place
Most conferences have rows and rows of perfectly lined chairs, but the Women Advisor Summit had only round tables. This forced attendees to sit together, have discussions, and learn more about one another. As natural discussions formed, it created a more intimate environment in which people actively asked questions during the sessions, with most sessions spurring 15 minutes of Q&A.
IMG_2512 (2)What Advisors of the Future Can Do:
Advisors of the future should not stop meeting clients face to face or have meaningful one-to-one discussions. On the contrary, advisors of the future can use social media to learn about their clients’ lives so that they can have more meaningful in-person discussions. It’s not about social media replacing in-person discussions, it’s about using social media to help advisors research customers and prospects and create more targeted conversations on more relevant topics. You’ll never have to ask “what’s new in your world?” if you’re already on social media.
Follow me on Twitter @kazab or join the conversation using hashtag #WAS2015.
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Karin Zabel

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