Social Media Prospecting is a Challenge for Advisors
By Marcus DiNitto
LinkedIn is easily advisors’ preferred social media platform for prospecting, although many acknowledge they are underutilizing the networking site for sales purposes.
Of the half dozen advisors we spoke to for this story, four use LinkedIn to find new business and one is considering it. For the other, social media simply doesn’t make sense for his advisory, as its clients are community banks not individuals.
Jeff Vaughn, senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Charlotte, N.C., is among those who prospect via LinkedIn but says he is still sharpening his social media chops.
“I do (use LinkedIn), but I don’t do as much of it as I should, and I’m trying to find the right ways to do it,” Vaughn said.
Michael Menzies, CEO of Pembroke Asset Advisors said his company – a two-person shop consisting of himself and his wife with offices in Oregon and Nevada – has yet to jump on the LinkedIn sales train, but it may just be a matter of time before it does. Menzies has not been impressed by the results from weekly posts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn generated by the automated content marketing system his firm uses.
“It does not seem to bring in prospects because it’s the same information everybody else is using,” Menzies said.
Like many aspects of the financial services industry, prospecting and marketing via social media is bound by compliance.
“In order to be compliant, everything we do on LinkedIn is monitored,” Vaughn said. “I can only get into LinkedIn through my work station, and there are tremendous guard rails in place. We can’t post our own content, we can’t respond to people, other than in an instant message.”
Merrill Lynch highly discourages using social media platforms other than LinkedIn.
“We have to be very careful about Facebook and Instagram and any of those others,” Vaughn added. “Personal use is fine, but if I went on there and started making recommendations, I could be fired instantaneously.”
At Morgan Stanley, advisors have to go through compliance before even setting up social media profiles or their own websites, according to one we spoke with.
David Lustig, financial advisor at Wealth Management Solutions in Newport Beach, Calif., who uses LinkedIn for marketing, not so much for prospecting, said compliance must sign off on content he posts.
“Any type of marketing information sent through LinkedIn has to be pre-approved,” he said.