By David Partain
Adaptability is a critical trait for financial advisors to possess, particularly in a shifting investor landscape. Over the next three to four decades, baby boomers are expected to transfer approximately $30 trillion to their heirs. With such a large amount of wealth changing hands, advisors have a unique opportunity to expand their client base to include the next generation of investors.
Capitalizing on that opportunity begins with honing a marketing strategy that resonates with younger investors while creating enhanced value for their existing client base. Embracing the possibilities of technology is an important first step. Tech has proven to be a significant disruptor in terms of how Americans manage their financial lives, including the way investors connect with financial advisors and build their portfolios. Fifty-eight percent of wealth managers believe that new developments in tech will continue to transform the industry. Looking ahead to the rest of 2017 and beyond, financial advisors should be taking notice of these digital marketing trends.
1. Big Data
The term “big data” refers to large data sets that businesses can analyze to generate insights into how to structure and manage operations. The big-data and business-analytics market is expected to grow to $150.8 billion by the end of this year. In a global survey of marketers, big data ranked second among the top-rated digital marketing techniques for 2017. For financial advisors, big data offers a pathway for strengthening relationships with current clients while also allowing them to connect with new ones. For example, big-data analysis makes it possible to create a more holistic view of clients’ needs, allowing advisors to deliver services more efficiently. An improved user experience may, in turn, drive higher retention rates. At the same time, big data allows advisors to study market trends on a granular level and refine their marketing approach as they forge relationships with new clients.
2. Visual Content
In marketing, content is king. Traditional written content is increasingly taking a backseat to visual media. In a 2016 Animoto survey, 76.5 percent of professional marketers and small- to medium-sized business owners who used video marketing said the format had a direct impact on their business. Forty-four percent of companies were using live streaming to market their brands in 2016. Introducing video and live streaming into your existing social media strategy can be an effective way to connect with prospective clients, including the 90-plus percent of millennials who own a smartphone. Visual storytelling enables advisors to add a human element to their marketing strategies, which may increase engagement and drive leads. Visual storytelling can also influence how prospective clients view the value of your services when it’s incorporated into the written content featured on your website. Research from Hill Holiday found that when a personalized photo and story accompanied a particular product, its perceived value increased by 5 percent.
3. Augmented and Virtual Reality
Virtual reality and its offshoot, augmented reality, are expected to reach more than $4 billion in market value, with more than 24 million AR and VR devices projected to be sold by 2018. Both AR and VR are immersive technologies, and while they’re largely focused on the entertainment and gaming industries, there’s room for their application in the financial-services sector. Early adopters are likely to be well positioned to take advantage of these digital marketing tools. How? Augmented-reality technology can be used to develop applications that allow clients to visualize their financial goals and bring them to life while creating projections for their long-term investment outlook. Virtual reality has enormous potential to replace traditional meetings, which may appeal to younger investors who crave human interaction with their advisor but don’t want to compromise their busy schedules.
In a Deloitte survey, for example, 82 percent of millennials said they place a high value on having personal meetings with their financial advisor. Fifty-seven percent of young adults included in the survey said they’d consider changing their current financial institution to one with a better technology platform solution. For advisors, augmented and virtual reality afford an opportunity to satisfy both of those demands.
4. Wearable Technology
Wearable technology is also gaining steam, and by 2019 it’s projected to be a $25 billion market. Rather than using their laptop or smartphone to search for financial advice or check for updates on their investments, investors may turn to their smartwatch or another wearable device for quick, accessible real-time information. Wearable tech devices are designed to allow users to access their financial information via apps and receive regular updates through push notifications on the go. For advisors, wearables represent an opportunity to market themselves to the next generation of investors in an innovative way through optimized and customized content. Wearable advertising is just one way to spread your message across a broad user group. According to a report from Juniper Research, spending on wearable ads is expected to reach $68.7 million by 2019. That’s a significant uptick from the $1.5 million spent in 2015, which suggests more businesses are recognizing wearable tech’s potential as a lead generator.
These developments can seem overwhelming, but advisors should be prepared to evolve as technology does. Technology is not a static entity; it’s constantly changing and improving, and that, in turn, impacts the way advisors shape their marketing plans. The strategies and techniques that may have worked 10 or even five years ago may no longer be as effective for attracting up-and-coming investors. Being aware of how tech is influencing marketing and the new developments on the horizon enable advisors to gain an edge as they seek to claim market share in a competitive environment.
David Partain is senior vice president and head of marketing for FlexShares Exchange Traded Funds.