There’s been a lot of speculation over how many of Morgan Keegan’s 1,000 financial advisors will stick around as the firm gets absorbed into acquirer Raymond James, a deal expected to close in April. Some are resistant to the change or are being lured away. For others, Raymond James is dangling a fairly tasty technological carrot: Immediate access to an advanced social media content, archiving and distribution platform.
Raymond James signed on with Actiance in November to use its Socialite tool, a system that automates the required archiving and monitoring of social media messages. The firm also uses Actiance’s “Engage” tool, which can schedule a variety of posts, tweets or updates from a huge library of pre-approved content. During visits to the firm’s St. Petersburg, Fla., headquarters over the last month, over 550 Morgan Keegan advisors got a taste for the platform, already used by 20 percent of Raymond James’s advisor force.
Rob Larmore, a Morgan Keegan advisor and branch manager in Atlanta, is anxious to join them. At the moment, he can only receive and accept content via social media sites. “I can play offense once I have this on my work computer.” Specifically, he expects to use LinkedIn as a way to connect with high-net-worth individuals and have a mutual contact.
“To me, it’s not so much what you can post as much as it is having access to be able to get introductions from your centers of influence,” Larmore said. “If you can drop a mutual contact within the first 15 seconds of discussion, it drops the guard down and it gives you a chance to explain your reason to contact somebody.”
From a branch manager perspective, he can also use it to find new recruits. For example, after Morgan Stanley announced a beta test for social media use with some of its advisors, Larmore got pinged by seven to eight advisors in Atlanta through LinkedIn.
Jean Arias, managing director with The Arias, Moore & Gann Group, at Morgan Keegan, said a social media profile gives clients and prospects the tool to evaluate her and her firm. It’s an efficient and quick way for prospects to learn more about her firm prior to their first visit, and they can find it by Googling the firm.
Arias, who partners with Polly Moore and Lori Gann, said social media is also another avenue for communicating with clients, other than through emails, calls or in person.
Gary Tate, a Morgan Keegan advisor in Houston, said the social media aspect is among his top reasons for sticking with Raymond James. Tate has been in the business for 32 years and said he has limited knowledge of how social media sites work, but he’s ready and excited to learn. “Even an old dog like me can learn a new trick.” The fact that Raymond James is forward-thinking and progressive enough to allow their advisors to use social media speaks volumes about those companies that still don’t allow it, Tate says.
He believes having that profile on a social media site is key for clients and prospects to be able to look him up on the Internet. “I’ve been told that by clients, ‘I tried to find you on the Internet and I couldn’t find much on you,’” he said. “That scares me a little bit.”