What a lovely surprise my 10 year old daughter received in the mail. It wasn’t just a get well card but a plush stuffed animal giving her that added boost of well wishes. A birthday present from her aunt and uncle? Nope. It was a get well card and small gift from our insurance agent. Huhh?
How did he know she was in the hospital? Looks like my wife posted a Facebook photo which he caught on his Facebook feed. A small gesture for him, but a powerful impact on my wife and I (yes, for our daughter too!). Now….who do you think I’ll mention when friends ask me about an insurance agent?
No, I’m Not Spying on my Clients
Plenty of financial advisors I communicate with are not on Facebook. Even fewer on Twitter. “Marty, I’m too busy managing my clients’ portfolios to be on Facebook or Twitter. That’s good for my teenagers, but not for me.” Digital for them is using their CRM, rebalancing tools and reconciling daily morning download activity from their custodian. I say Social Media is another important ingredient that can add to their existing client relationships.
Many of my Facebook friends (possibly all of them) share their life’s twists and turns on Facebook. Posting photos of newborns, graduations, weddings and yes, hospital visits also. People are social and want to share, giving themselves a virtual high-five. Milestones, life setbacks, triumphs and even defeats being shared with friends and family, but what about their professional relationships? Will their banker, financial advisor or accountant see these posts? Can it be an opportunity for them to build a deeper bond?
One custodial firm in Florida (TradePMR) developed their advisor platform with this in mind, allowing advisors to connect to their clients’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds directly through the advisors interface. There are various options on the platform allowing advisors to view these updates. There’s also a separate page showing Social Media posts for whichever clients they are following. Advisors can manage pop-ups to be instantly notified of a client’s post. No, it’s not spying but rather looking for opportunities to help clients.
Some ideas for opportunities where a financial advisor might step in:
- Reaching out after a client posts they are retiring soon can open up conversations on what to do with their 401(k) or pension.
- Graduation announcements mean new careers, which mean employer sponsored retirement accounts.
- Marriage Social Media posts might mean eventually combining accounts and family planning conversations.
- Marital status changes on a clients LinkedIn or Facebook pages.
- Twitter or Facebook posts about buying a new car or home.
- Death equates to estate plans and disbursement of assets.
- Moving out of state (or country) Facebook posts do not mean you’re losing a client (Skype or Apple’s FaceTime allows advisors to continue meeting with their clients’).
- Job loss posts allow an advisor to open up their Rolodex of contacts and help a client get back on their feet (The book One Phone Call Away, by Jeffrey Meshel talks about the concept of putting people together).
- Clients’ dream vacations plans, via a Facebook post, allow advisors to suggest ways to save money.
- Hospital (surgery, small or big) lets the advisor mail a card and small get well gift (like my daughter received).
These are just a few ideas, but there are many chances to build stronger clients ties, reach out with friendly advice, or just be thoughtful when times are tough for the advisors’ client. Milestones are many times not shared with the financial advisor. People with post a Facebook picture of themselves at the car dealership shopping around, but won’t call their financial advisor (until they need money wired to their bank account). One of my financial advisor friends in Kentucky (Russell Capital Management) has for years helped his clients in car purchase negotiations, saving them thousands of dollars. It’s just an add on service this particular advisor offers his clients.
Sure, many clients will call their advisors with some of the life examples I listed. Connecting to a client via Social Media simply allows the advisor (and their staff) to anticipate and be proactive in their efforts. The teddy bear get well gift for my daughter struck us all. My insurance agent was really just doing a nice thing, but when my daughter is older, she’ll instinctively know who to call for her insurance needs.