While the adoption of social media among wealth management firms is still at early stages, large organizations including Morgan Stanley are already exploring how to scale social tools across front lines and move beyond their pilots. However, this is not easily done. It will take time for executives to work social networks into existing channels and build organizational competence.
With changing consumer expectations, it is no longer appropriate for organizations to ask clients to only come to them (office, web site, etc.). Instead, advisors also need to be where their clients are—in the mobile and social spaces. The daily life of advisors will still revolve around many of the rituals that take place today, such as preparing for client and prospect meetings, and building relationships. However advisors are now able to use social networks to create additional touch points with clients and referral sources and when applied consistently (as they are in offline channels) social touch points become part of the whole customer experience.
For example, an advisor might review a client’s updates and posts from Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter prior to a client meeting. This may signal changes in lifestyles, major milestones, or common interests. This could then help tailor the next interaction with a client or prospect, especially when matched with existing customer information held by the firm. On the flip side of the equation, clients and prospects can learn more about their advisors and those they trust for financial guidance.
Early experimenters understand many of these challenges and are taking calculated steps to train, enable, and support their advisor channels. While these firms might take different paths to achieve success at scale, we believe all firms should base their efforts on these 6 key principles:
- Customer Experience Strategy comes first: Firms need to understand how new touch points and information from social networks affect the desired customer experience and how social networks influence the customer journey.
- Social Media requires an architecture, Not a software solution: There is no doubt that technology solutions need to be employed in the process of enabling advisors to use social media. New technologies and existing platforms must work harmoniously with each other and any broader technology architectures already in place.
- New processes and procedures are needed: Allowing advisors to use social media requires new guidelines and procedures. These include processes for the creation of new content, moderating dialogue, and managing compliance and risk.
- Provide initial and ongoing education: Education is needed to understand new risks, learn how to use new tools, adopt new processes for content development, and follow practical guides for operating within social networks.
- Content is still King: Content needs to not only reflect the voice of the firm, but the character of the advisor and the person they are communicating with. Firms need to develop content themes, content style, and specific content supporting specific outcomes.
- Analytics and Data Integration are fundamental: Analytics will be the key to maximizing the return on investment for advisors. With proper data collected and then distributed across applications, firms can begin attributing social interactions to business outcomes.
In 2013, most organizations continue the process of incorporating social media into their marketing and sales channels while dealing with a variety of issues and challenges. Leaders will focus on the customer journey and how social networking will become part of the advisor and client DNA rather than a challenge to the existing order. Today’s wealth management advisors need to be increasingly in front of their customers with both standard touch points and those now available from social networks. Success will hinge on implementing social media as a new capability, and not just another channel. Only then social media will lead to new opportunities while helping position firms for the next generation of wealth.