Social media and technology constantly advance to provide advisors new opportunities to connect and engage with customers. These opportunities streamline communications like never before. However, regulations and compliance structures haven’t adapted at the same pace, resulting in less agile marketing plans. These structures are necessary for practice and client protections, but they create a minefield of obstacles for promotional strategies.
Compliance departments are not in a position to approve advisor content in real time. Instead, advisors create promotional calendars months in advance to receive approvals. This means information we are able to share may be retrofitted, outdated, reserved and slowed down.
Many firms have a group of advisors who run the gamut in age and experience levels, and each group has unique challenges to adapt to these restrictions. While senior-level associates work toward fluency in a new medium’s technology, the junior staff learns to restrict the frequency of posting in order to remain compliant. In this challenging environment, it is possible to develop a curated, targeted and engaged strategy for your practice. At my firm, we’ve taken steps to safeguard our communications strategies to engage with clients and bridge the gap.
Create a Personal Social
The first rule of a compliance-friendly social media strategy is to completely avoid promotion of products or services. Instead, showcase your personality. Your clients want to do business with people they like and feel they know; social lifestyle marketing is a digital extension of the relationship building you do in face-to-face meetings and telephone calls. This keeps social media purely social and helps elevate your brand.
Engagement helps put your business in front of your prospects and clients. When your social connections see a post or photo from you in their feed, they’re reminded of who you are and what you do. This frequently prompts a next step.
My client relationships continue to be impacted positively by this strategy. I’m able to interact instantly with prospects and clients in a way that was not possible when I first started in this business. It has helped me to market myself but also allows me maintain and develop meaningful relationships.
Keep It Professional
As you are a trusted partner in your client’s money management, it’s critical that your posts show you in the best possible light and portray a professional persona. With this in mind, I recommend sharing the elements of your life that make you relatable — a healthy mix of personal and professional moments — without oversharing or bragging. To add a personalized human touch to your online presence, share meaningful milestones such as becoming a grandparent, getting married, graduations and all the things that people appreciate in life’s journey. While professionally focused posts won’t overtly promote your services, you can highlight your visibility in the industry with photos from events, travel, company culture, etc.
Include your position and workplace in your profile description to remind your followers what services you provide and how they can reach you. From there, they will be able to click through to your site and take the next step.
Find a Balance
Although social media is a great tool, it is not a replacement for traditional relationship building. No matter how far technology takes us, it never will overcome the importance of human interaction. The more we rely on social media and technology to do the heavy lifting, the less focused we become on face-to-face interaction with clients.
Automation and technology-based operations systems, particularly robo-
advisors, have had a major impact on our industry in this way as well. As a result, many advisors spend less time developing their professional personas, to the detriment of their client relationships.
There’s a direct relationship between which communication medium each generation of advisors uses and that generation’s technology fluency. Older advisors who entered the professional world before the days of advanced technology have a lifetime of perfecting interpersonal, face-to-face communication skills. On the other hand, younger professionals who have gone their entire lives with access to technology often rely too heavily on email and social media, and may lack in-person communication skills.
Personality is the single most vital asset in relationship-driven businesses. Despite new technologies, people want to do business with advisors they like and trust. To streamline and improve client relations, find a balance between in-person and technological communication tools. For example, use technology with the goal of scheduling phone or in-person meetings for more meaningful points of contact. Companies should work with advisors at every level to strengthen their individual communication weaknesses.
A Proactive Solution
It’s more important than ever before to develop creative ways to bring client relationships to the next level while also meeting regulation restrictions. For most advisors, that begins and ends with the advancement of their professional persona. Your clients appreciate when you engage with them and provide value to their lives. That’s one thing your computer cannot do. My mantra to help staff members develop this side of their professional persona is “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”
Internal processes and standards help firms cope with the industry’s regulations. It’s unlikely that regulations and compliance processes will become any less stringent over time. In fact, as new communication tools and social platforms become available, new regulations and guidelines probably will be enacted. In addition to influencing regulations, technology threatens to change the industry itself. Adaptable guidelines take the guesswork out of communication and can lessen the burden on your compliance department.
Marcus T. Henderson Sr., LUTCF, president and CEO of Henderson Financial Group Inc., is a 25-year MDRT member with nine Court of the Table and six Top of the Table honors. He serves as lead financial advisor for his wealth management firm in Brentwood, Tenn. He may be contacted at [email protected]