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Survey: 66% of advisors report social media has helped them gain new clients

The number of financial advisors who are gaining new clients through social media is growing, according to a survey released by Putnam Investments today.
In the 2013 Putnam survey, 49% of advisors using social media for business indicated that social media had helped them gain new clients. This year that number is up, with 66% of advisors reporting that social has helped them gain new clients.
Putnam Investments 2014 Social Media Survey
The size of the new clients advisors are gaining through social media is growing too. This year, 39% of respondents who reported gaining new clients through social media gained new assets of more than $1 million, with an average gain of $5.5 million. The median booking was almost $2 million in new assets, close to triple the level reported by the 2013 respondents.
It’s also interesting to note that while the business value of social media is becoming more evident for advisors, the percentage of advisors using social has not grown year-over-year, remaining steady at 75% of respondents. LinkedIn remains the top network for advisors, with 64% of advisors reporting that they use the professional social network.
The survey also shares some interesting demographics: women and advisors under 30 are the most likely to use social networks for business. Wirehouse advisors are using social media more than independent advisors or RIAs and are the most likely segment of advisors to gain new clients.
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To learn more, check out the Putnam Investments 2014 Social Advisor Study.
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3 strategies to overcome social media challenges in wealth management

Article first appeared on thewealthnet on Tue, Dec 9, 2014.

logoThe wealth management industry has been slow to embrace and understand how to harness the power of social networks in their organizations. However, with a billion people on Facebook and 200 million on Twitter and LinkedIn each, there’s no question that your customers – both young and old – are already there. Clients today expect their advisors to interact more often, to offer them more personalized service and to communicate when and where they want.
A recent 2014 survey by PAM Insight of financial advisors shows that, compared to last year where only 67.9% used Linkedin, this year that number has increased to 83%. The other network that was mentioned was Twitter with 54% having corporate Twitter accounts. The future also seems bright for social media initiatives with over 72% planning to increase spend in the next year.
Hearsay Social recently had the opportunity to dig behind these numbers when it partnered with Financial Services Forum to host a meeting with heads of marketing from some of the largest wealth management firms in UK. A roundtable discussion on the state of social media and the challenges facing this industry brought to light three key challenges and strategies to overcome perceived barriers:

Risk

When it comes to the biggest barriers in adopting social, compliance and risk took center stage. PAM Insight reports that “as with previous year’s survey, 66.7% of advisors stated compliance as the main concern.” But the problem here was less about specific requirements and more about the fact that there is no clarity on what the rules are, which has paralyzed many companies into taking no action.
Recent guidelines from FCA were applauded by the group to be a move in the right direction but there were still a lot of questions on what FCA will and will not accept. There was agreement that the industry can’t wait indefinitely for the rules to be clear, so companies should start by implementing some basic social media strategies:

  • Provide advisors with a pre-approved library of content
  • Enable a workflow to automate content approval
  • Adopt a third-party system to capture social conversations and archive it.

Content

Another area that sparked a lot of conversation amongst the group was content. How do you differentiate your content from your competitors? How do you ensure that your content is not “spam” for your customers? And, more importantly, how do you shape the conversation on social media?
This concern was consistent with PAM Insight’s finding that showed 64.3% of respondents were concerned about lack of control on what content is communicated. After much discussion on this topic, attendees agreed that the best strategy to overcome content issues is education. Education on how to represent yourself online in a manner that is true, trustworthy and personal. Education on the right type of content for the right audience. And education on regulatory risk and social media policies of the company.

Timeliness

Most participants feel that social media moves too fast. If you want to be on social media channels, you need to be prepared to respond in time. Many people spoke about the compliance process and the length of time it takes, often making social conversations less relevant by the time they are ready.
Since introducing any change takes time, it is imperative that companies start now to understand what social media can do for them and take incremental steps to help their people build relationships online. Creating cross-functional teams with marketing, sales and compliance and educating themselves on how social media works are a couple strategies that can help with timeliness and embracing these new channels of communication.
Overall the impact and benefits of social media dominated the conversation. This is again in line with the survey results of PAM Insight. The survey showed that 61% of advisors believed “building industry presence and credibility” was the biggest benefit. While 44% said attracting clients and retention of existing clients (80%) were important benefits of social media.
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For wealth managers in Asia-Pacific, digital, mobile, and social will be crucial to meeting client expectations

The same trends driving rapid adoption of mobile and social technologies in North America and Europe are not only playing a role in Asia-Pacific as well, but they’re actually even more impactful there.
Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2014
For example, 82% of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) expect most or all of their wealth management relationship to be conducted through digital channels in five years, in contrast to 61% of HNWIs in the rest of the world, according to the Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2014 recently released by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management. Not only that, but the study found that Asia-Pacific HNWIs across all ages and wealth levels will increasingly demand mobile and social technologies for interacting with wealth managers.
According to Jean Lassignardie (Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Capgemini Global Financial Services, @jlassig):

“The risk of not getting digital right is high for wealth management firms in Asia-Pacific, as its high net worth individuals are distinguishing themselves as more digitally-minded than their peers in the rest of the world. Asia-Pacific wealth management firms will need to offer a deep, multi-channel experience that takes into account regional variations in order to meet these high expectations.”

Of course, social media is especially crucial to the younger generation. Over half of Asia-Pacific HNWIs under the age of 40 indicate social media as an important channel for their wealth management relationship. The Asia-Pacific wealth manager should share that perspective, especially since Asia-Pacific HNWIs are already openly sharing information about themselves on social networks, which will be a useful resource for the digital-savvy financial professional.
To further explore Asia-Pacific’s wealth management climate and how the digital movement will play a part, download the free 52-page Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2014.
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Research: Financial advisors improve client retention and increase AUM with digital and social tools

Digital Wealth Management researchAt Hearsay Social, one of the most frequent questions we hear from the financial services industry is this: “What is the ROI of social media?”
Depending on who you ask, there are a few answers. What we’ve seen is that social media ROI is largely qualitative, with a social media presence alone resulting in new business or better relationships with existing clients. Additionally, the ROI for each firm will depend on the goals associated with that firm’s particular social strategy. For many firms, the first measure was growth, connectivity, and having a compliant social presence with little to no infractions.
Beyond that, however, we’ve heard countless anecdotes directly from financial advisors attributing increased business to their use of social media. Backing up these anecdotes, Accenture recently published a report entitled Reimagining Wealth Management for the Digital Age, which explores not only how digital technologies and social media are changing the wealth management industry, but also what results have been seen.
Here are a few of the best results:

  • Over half of financial advisors have found and/or converted clients via digital channels
  • 77% of financial advisors have improved client retention via digital/social tools
  • 74% of financial advisors have increased assets under management (AUM) via digital/social tools

Besides these and other eye-opening statistics, Accenture’s 20-page report analyzes how digital technologies and the new “digital generation” have disrupted traditional ways of doing business in the wealth management industry. Near the report’s conclusion, the consulting firm offers three essential components that will help financial firms, advisors, and their clients find success in the new digital era:

  1. Empowerment: of both client and advisor, building trust by making clients better informed
  2. Engagement: to enable a more collaborative relationship between client and advisor
  3. Agility: of both mindset and business model, to adjust rapidly to the speed of change

To learn more, download the full Accenture report here.
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4 incredible Internet trends you need to know about

Mary Meeker, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and respected technology analyst, is back this year with great data and predictions on digital, mobile, social, and emerging markets. Last week she released the latest edition of her annual Internet Trends report, highlighting once again incredible growth in the online world.
Here were some especially interesting highlights:

  • There are now 2.4 billion global Internet users, and that number is still growing. In the U.S., there are 244 million U.S. Internet users, making up over three-quarters of the population.
  • Facebook, after Google and Microsoft, is the third most visited Internet property around the world, with over 800 million unique visitors in February 2013.
  • Over 90% of social media users report using Facebook, still the most popular social network. The other top five most used social networks include YouTube, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
  • Mobile traffic as a percentage of global Internet traffic has been growing 1.5x every year since 2008; this year, mobile accounts for 15% of all Internet traffic. Mary predicts the yearly growth will either maintain its current trajectory or accelerate in the coming years.

Below is the presentation Mary presented at The Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital last week in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. It’s 117 slides but a quick read and worth perusing.

The ever-increasing value of local social advertising

In the days leading up to the Facebook IPO, automotive company GM made headlines with its decision to stop paid advertising on Facebook. Last week we talked about what GM’s decision means for Facebook advertisers.
Now, thanks to some new research, we have a better picture of what the social advertising space looks like as a whole.
Social network ad spending is set to grow 43% this year in the US to $3.63 billion, according to eMarketer. By 2014, that figure will continue climbing to $5.59 billion. BIA/Kelsey is even more optimistic, predicting social ad spending to reach $4.8 billion this year and $7 billion by 2014.

These are incredible growth numbers, but they shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, half the US population uses Facebook. If you’re a brand that wants to connect with consumers in the US, then it’s absolutely clear you cannot ignore a social network with that kind of reach.
Importantly, BIA/Kelsey notes that most ad spending will continue to be nationally focused, “but a growing chunk will come from local ads.”
But why local? Because, as it turns out, consumers actually respond positively to locally-relevant ads.
A recent Neustar study found that 8 out of 10 people prefer local ads because it personalizes the relationship between business and consumer, while keeping things anonymous. Furthermore, people feel special when they see an appropriately targeted ad, encouraging them to click through and drive conversions.
None of this means that only SMBs and independent shops can succeed with social ad spending. Walmart, one of the largest corporations in the world, recommitted to a “social-local strategy” by launching thousands of Facebook pages, one for each of its brick-and-mortar stores. Like Hearsay Social customers Farmers Insurance, 24 Hour Fitness, and Northwestern Mutual, Walmart has discovered the incredible value of reaching out to customers on a local level.
To learn more about the power of going local on social, check out this recent report on the value of local Facebook fans.

Why you need a social CIO

“With the experience our employees have as consumers, I believe it is important for me as CIO to understand the experiences they are enjoying and how to bring those same experiences into the workplace in a ‘fit for business’ way.” — Jeanette Horan, Chief Information Officer of IBM

LinkedIn is now a publicly traded company, and the professional social network is accessed by 150 million people every month. Facebook, which is going public very soon, is accessed by a mind-blowing 901 million people every month. Other social networks, like Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram, are likewise seeing record engagement rates as consumers continue to crave a social experience with everything they do online.
These statistics are startling because they illustrate the “consumerization of IT,” or an increasing tendency for new technologies to first be adopted by mainstream consumers before businesses. If organizations today want to keep up, they must look to the behaviors of their very employees for insight into which technologies can help them build a better business.
Forbes recently published an article discussing the new era of the social business, which must be led by a “Social CIO” that understands the importance of social media and social networking to their organization. Their perspective falls much in line with our own:

For CIOs, managing is about understanding an organization’s people, information and technologies. Their task is to make people capable of exceptional performance, to enable teams to collaborate and to prepare an organization to be more effective. This is what the true role of the CIO is all about, and it is the reason that she is critical to building a social business.
To understand that LinkedIn is important for networking and identifying subject matter experts; to see that Twitter can be used to communicate ideas to a broad audience; to grasp that Facebook is a valuable tool for connecting friends and family through shared interests; to appreciate that Google+ represents a new break-through in long form communication and collaboration are all important to understand when designing the information flow and technologies for the social enterprise.

It’s a challenge, but every organization will need to rethink themselves as a social business. From hiring to marketing to sales, everyone at your organization is a brand ambassador, and it’s up to the CIO to put the infrastructure in place to make that happen.
Looking for a good role model? Here’s a graphic highlighting the top 25 Social CIOs in the Fortune 250, as identified by harmon.ie:

Curious to learn more about the new role of the Social CIO? Check out some of these posts:

When, where, and how social media users share [INFOGRAPHIC]

When are social media users most active? What time of day, what day of the week? When do most people click a link? What are the fastest growing social media sites of all time? Of the last year?
Social bookmarking service AddThis, in celebration of its fifth birthday, published an awesome infographic that answers all these questions and more. Naturally, this isn’t the ultimate and final resource on social media sharing—will that ever exist?—but it’s definitely a start. Over the last five years, AddThis has tracked 1.2 billion users across 10 million domains in 70 languages, making for a mountain of data to work with.
Some highlights:

  • When it comes to sharing, peak hour is 9:30am EST and peak day is Wednesday. This is a double-edged sword for marketers. While sharing at those times might be critical to spreading a message or piece of content virally, you’ll be competing with such a massive influx of content from other users that you risk getting lost in the stream.
  • Among social media services, Twitter has experienced the sharpest growth over the years in terms of shares percentage. Trailing Twitter are all the usual suspects: Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Tumblr. It’s been said time and time again, but the most efficient marketer will use a variety of services in a variety of ways. Sharing on just one network isn’t very efficient.
  • Up to 10x more sharing happens via copy paste. Not “Tweet” buttons or “Like” buttons or anything of that sort. The traditional act of copying a URL from the address bar and pasting it into an email or IM chat is still the preferred way for people to share content with each other.

Scroll through the infographic below for some incredible data – like, “We process more data in one week than the Hubble Telescope collected in its first 20 years.” Wow!

Back in May, our in-house data guru Greg Kroleski wrote a great article entitled “Avoiding the “cricket chirp” post: Three factors to optimize social media engagement,” which delves into the many nuances of sharing across multiple networks and for multiple audiences. For successful sharing, users must be mindful of the kind of content they’re sharing, the timing of their posts, and much more.

There’s always more data available on this subject, so check back here regularly for new insights.

Introducing the Social Media Executive Roundtable series

Knowing that social media is transforming marketing from the ground up is only half the battle. But what about the other half? What about actually executing on that knowledge?
Even though 82% of chief marketing officers say they plan to increase their social media use over the next 3-5 years, over 50% of them admit that they are underprepared to carry out that task, according to a new IBM study published in Reuters. The study brings attention to the fact that, though CMOs are perfectly aware of the changing marketing landscape, they are struggling to figure out exactly how to address that change.

As evidence of this, the study also found that only 26% of CMOs are currently tracking blogs, 42% are tracking third-party reviews, and 48% are tracking consumer reviews. These days, if you’re not staying on top of what the Web is saying about your brand, then you’re not doing your job as a marketer.
Hearsay Social not only understands the secret power of social media, but also how you and your business’ CMOs can best take advantage of that rapidly flourishing power. And we want to share our secrets with you.
That’s why this evening Hearsay Social is hosting a Social Media Executive Roundtable dinner, bringing together marketing executives from several top-tier retail, financial, and insurance companies to discuss the blooming social media enterprise.
The highlight of the evening will feature a panel of experts including Emily White (Sr. Director of Local, Facebook), Scott Roberts (Head of Monetization Business Development, LinkedIn), and Ryon Harms (Director of Social Media, Farmers Insurance) in a conversation moderated by Clara Shih (CEO and founder of Hearsay Social).
Tonight’s roundtable is going down in San Francisco, but it’s just the first of many, with upcoming events slated in Chicago, New York and other major cities.
Stay tuned for a recap of tonight’s event in the coming days.

Web 2.0 Expo: The growing social media presence in New York City

I attended Web 2.0 Expo this afternoon in NYC and was thrilled to see such a strong showing!
Not only was it great to see many familiar faces, but I was also able to catch the impressive keynote, Road Map for the Digital City: How @nycgov is Realizing its Digital Potential, presented by Rachel Sterne, Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York.

Having met Rachel and done work on the official New York City website in my previous life at Google, it was exciting to hear that the city is continuing to make investments in technology, especially in regard to social media. As Rachel noted in her presentation, 300,000 people work for the city of New York and a staggering four million engage with the city each day through the Web and social media.
“Social media is incredibly interesting,” said Rachel. “It has allowed us to reimagine the way we engage with the public.”
Some of the most successful examples:

  • the Department of Transportation launching the Daily Pothole on Tumblr
  • the public using Twitter during Hurricane #Irene
  • @311NYC, the Twitter source for New York City government information and services
  • and (the one that made me chuckle) NYC Condom on Facebook, an official government resource for promoting safe sex.

All of this is terrific for Hearsay Social, since it provides just more and more proof of social media’s growing influence, from the individual user to nationwide corporations to city politics and planning.
As the leader and founder of the Hearsay Social NYC office, it’s great to be in the company of other local startups like Foursquare and Tumblr. In the not so distant future, I imagine New York and other cities could leverage a solution like the one provided by Hearsay Social to manage posts across all of the city’s agency Facebook pages and Tweets across its growing list of Twitter handles, with strong metrics and compliance across all fronts.
This is exciting stuff, and I congratulate Rachel on her achievements so far. We look forward to talking to you more about how we can help the city realize its full digital potential!
By the way, if you’re a brilliant salesperson in New York City curious about working at a fast-growing social media startup, be sure to check out our jobs page. We’re currently looking to hire a Sales Engineer and Senior Account Executive.