Atlanta: I was at a cocktail function in the midst of a group of financial advisors, all veteran team leaders, answering questions and having a convivial conversation when the following exchange occurred:
Financial Advisor: You’re trying to tell me that I’ve got to read that LinkedIn Sales book of yours?
Me: No. The book’s not for you. It’s over your head.
Financial Advisor: (Speechless as his colleagues all chuckled)
Me: But you’re a smart guy – you’re a $2mm producer – so you’re going to hire an intern at $15 an hour to read the book and give you a 2-page summary along the lines of “LinkedIn for Dummies.” Then, if the report makes sense, you’re going to hire this intern for 10 hours a week to be your social media guru. This person will create your LinkedIn profile, write your summary, and manage your connections. You just have to invest 30 minutes a week to review all of this with your intern.
Financial Advisor: (Now smiling) You are really pretty smart – that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Me: I don’t know if I’m really smart – but this LinkedIn Sales book – is over your head (Laughter all around).
During a subsequent presentation I was giving on affluent marketing, I shared the aforementioned exchange as I was discussing the ever increasing role social media is playing in how everyone is communicating, especially the affluent.
This triggered the following from a financial advisor during our Q & A,
“I don’t use social media, I don’t think my clients really use it – I’ve got a very mature practice and I’m not really focused on marketing,” recited an advisor named Geoff, in what seemed like a polite rant before asking “So, tell me, why do I need to be on LinkedIn?”
Trying not to do the eye-roll that so often accompanies the “here we go again” self-talk (after all, this was an affluent marketing presentation), I smiled and replied, “You’re not the first financial advisor to express that attitude and I’m sure you won’t be the last.”
Some 25 years ago the Internet and email appeared in our lives, seemingly out of nowhere (Al Gore’s opinion to the contrary). If you were a financial advisor back then, you were probably in your 20’s or 30’s and few people understood how to harness the power of the Internet. Yet it seemed as though every financial advisor wanted the access to what is commonplace today – but at the time was forbidden.
Back in that era, the early adopters took it upon themselves to learn the myriad of communication possibilities afforded by the Internet. When the SEC and compliance finally “got the memo” these financial advisors were far ahead on the learning curve. Like most early adopters of any new tool, these financial advisors were reaping the benefits years before it became second nature to everyone.
Geoff, like the boomer advisor not wanting to read our book, the official title being The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors, agreed that online and remote access had been standard operating procedure for a long time and admitted to wanting access well before it was allowed. Hello! Now it’s social media time and veteran financial advisors need to understand the importance of having a healthy digital presence.
I posed a question to this audience of veteran financial advisors; You’re looking for an architect to design an update of your kitchen coupled with ‘mother-in-law’ suite expansion. You asked around and were given the name of an architect by someone you respect. How many of you would conduct a Google search on that specific architect?
When I asked for a show of hands, it seemed as though every hand went up (I’m sure there were a few outliers). This provided a natural segue into an affluent prospect conducting a Google search on them. What is found, or not found, has a major impact on decision making.
Just for giggles, I asked everyone to pull out their smart phone or tablet and conduct a Google search on themselves in their area. Things got interesting very quickly. Those without a LinkedIn presence had less digital real estate. This got a number of these advisors amped-up.
So where does a financial advisor begin? Since most firms allow their advisors to use LinkedIn, and Google loves it (algorithms between Google and LinkedIn are well aligned), it’s a great first step in taking control of your digital footprint (real estate). Oh, by the way, it’s also your professional persona online.
The reality in affluent decision making is to ask around (word-of-mouth-influence). What follows shortly thereafter is a Google search. Although word-of-mouth influence remains the key impact factor in decision making, the trend to search online is growing. From my perspective, every financial advisor should build out his or her LinkedIn presence – it’s a terrific first step to an overarching digital strategy.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com