In the Financial Services vertical, you can still find some who think that social media is not that important--that wealthy investors and licensed financial professionals are too busy and too serious to pay attention to (much less create) tweets and posts. The time has come to look at the data and discard groundless and dangerous beliefs about social media. Here are four recent studies that demonstrate social media has a key place in FinServ strategies:
Forrester Finds a Strong Correlation Between Social Communications and Financial Advisor Payments
In his July 2012 report, "Collaborative Advice: Using Digital Touchpoints To Enhance Advisor-Client Relationships," Forrester Vice President Bill Doyle shared data about affluent investors' digital interactions with advisors. The study demonstrated a strong correlation between the number of times these investors interact with financial advisors in social networks and the investors' payments for advisors' services. The correlation between advisor payments and the number of social media interactions (0.461) was almost twice as strong as the correlation with the number of interactions in person (0.234) or by phone (0.246).
It is important to point out that correlation is not causation. Doyle's data does not suggest that social media interactions are twice as powerful as in-person or phone interactions but that frequent interactions between affluent investors and advisors in social media are associated with greater revenue for advisors. While an advisor can interact with just one client at a time on the phone or in person, social media provides a way for advisors to reach and interact with many clients simultaneously. This study demonstrates the power of social media scale and social network relationships to financial professionals.
Accenture Finds Social Media Helps Financial Advisors Retain Clients and Increase Assets Under Management
Last Fall, Accenture surveyed 400 U.S. Financial Advisors and published "Closing the Gap: How Tech-Savvy Advisors Can Regain Investor Trust." The research found that digital and social tools "offer Financial Advisors unprecedented opportunities for more frequent interactions with their clients, helping them forge deeper, stronger relationships."
Among the Financial Advisors surveyed:
- 60% have daily contact with clients through social media
- 77% affirm that social media helps with client retention
- 74% agree that social media helps them increase assets under management
- 73% say it has led to an overall increase in client interactions
- 40% indicate they have gotten new clients through Facebook
- 25% have developed new clients through LinkedIn
- 21% have earned new clients through Twitter
Brunswick Group Finds Social Media Drives Investment Recommendations and Research
In its 2012 survey of 476 investment professionals (including both buy-side investors and sell-side analysts), Brunswick Group found considerable adoption of social media compared to its earlier 2010 survey. More importantly, the study found that investors are using social media to drive investment recommendations and research.
Among the findings:
- 52% read business information postings on blogs (up from 47% in 2010) and 24% have made an investment decision or recommendation after initially sourcing information from blogs.
- 30% read business information postings on micro-blog services (up from 11% in 2010); 12% of investors have made an investment decision or recommendation after sourcing information from micro-blog services (an increase of 200% since 2010).
- 24% read business information postings on social networks (up from 17% in 2010), and 9% have made an investment decision or recommendation after initially sourcing info from a social network.
- Investment professionals are increasingly posting and not just consuming information in social channels. In 2012, 11% said they post investment information to blogs (more than doubling since 2009), 8% post investment info to microblogs (up 50% since 2010) and 10% post investment information to social networks (doubling since 2010).
- Overall, 56% of investment professionals say the role of digital and social media in the investment decision process is increasing compared to 6% who felt it was decreasing.
Cogent Research Finds Many Wealthy Investors Use Social Media for Finance and InvestingIn a survey of 4,000 US investors with more than $100,000 in investable assets, Cogent Research found that a growing number of affluent investors use social media specifically to help inform their personal finance and investment decisions. Among the findings:
- About 34% of affluent investors specifically use social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and company blogs for personal finance and actual investing
- Another 41% said they use social media and sometimes come across investment information even though that wasn't the specific reason they went to those sites
- About 36% said social-media research has caused them to reach out to their advisers to ask questions
- Seven out of ten wealthy investors who use social media for investment research (which is 24% of all investors) have either have changed their relationship with an investment provider or reallocated actual investments because of something they read on social media
- Even for high net worth individuals with more than $1 million in investable assets, 25% seek investment advice from social media.
While many firms are proceeding slowly and cautiously into social media, it seems many of our licensed financial professionals and our wealthy customers are adopting social media with more haste. In fact, the Accenture report notes that so many financial advisors are using social media that many are "likely flouting their firms' current policies against this type of activity."
Forget keeping up with the competition. Financial Service firms ought to worry more about keeping up with their own sales networks, employees and customers.