For all of the advantages advocate say it carries in building outreach, social media may not be the best way for financial advisers to build new relationships.
According to a new report from Aite Group, “Financial Advisors Use of Social Media 2011: The Bloom is Off the Rose,” the percentage of advisers who have used social media to differentiate their practice from competitors’ practices declined from 21% in 2009 to 9% in 2011.
The latest report is fourth in a series of reports based on a first quarter 2011 Aite survey of 437 U.S. financial advisers.
Revenue has also taken a hit. Advisers who had seen an increase in revenue or fees from using social media declined from 16% in 2009 to 6% in 2011.
Ron Shevlin, Aite analyst and co-author of the report, said the absence of benefits provided by social media may be muting advisers’ views of the potential impact of social media on business objectives.
“It’s hard to criticize advisers for aggressively going after new clients, but many seem unwilling to admit that social media may be better suited to communicating with existing clients than to finding and acquiring new ones,” Shevlin wrote.
Reaching new prospects was mentioned by only 19% of social-media-using advisers surveyed in 2011, and that percentage is barely more than half of what it was when Aite surveyed advisers in 2009.
Although two-thirds of the advisers who use social media professionally use LinkedIn, a quarter use Facebook, 13% use Twitter, and less than 10% use YouTube or have a blog. Compared to 2009, the use of LinkedIn increased, but the use of other social media tools decreased.
Aite said this suggests that as more advisers have adopted social media, most gravitated to LinkedIn over other sites and tools, and some of them have found Facebook, Twitter, or blogs to be ineffective, and have discontinued using them.
Aite also found that social investing sites play little role in advisers’ use of social media. No more than 3% of them frequently visit any of the leading sites, according to the report. Stockpickr is the most visited site, though just 13% of advisers have visited it at least once. Stockpickr and Wikinvest are the most well-known of the sites, but are familiar to only about one-third of the advisers surveyed.
“The absence of benefits from social media may be muting advisers’ views of the potential impact of social media on business objectives. Few advisers believe that social media supports a range of business objectives ‘to a great extent,’” the report read.
The most frequently cited objective is “building brand awareness/differentiation,” but only 9% of advisers who use social media professionally have reaped that benefit, according to Aite. Since 2009, the percentage of advisors who believe that social media supports various business objectives to a “great extent” has declined.
Still, despite the pessimistic view of the benefits achieved from social media and the limited impact it has on key business objectives, an increasing percentage of advisers believe that social media will be “important” but not necessarily “very important” for advisers over the next three years. Just 6% plan to use Facebook or LinkedIn in the next year, and half that percentage plan to Tweet or blog.
Financial advisers said it’s not just the lack of business results that holds them back from using social media. Nearly four in 10 who don’t use social media professionally said that it’s not worth their time, and about a third said that they don’t like to communicate with clients that way, according to the report.
Wealth management firm policies may also deter advisers from using social media, Aite found. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said that their firm has a written policy regarding the use of social media. Of firms that have a policy, more than eight in 10 have a policy that limits or prohibits the use of social media. Compliance and regulatory concerns topped the list of reasons why.