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Engaging with prospects directly on social media can translate into more business for an advisor’s practice. But that engagement must be truly authentic to make like-minded connections, advisors active on social media platforms say.
Almost all of Mark McGrath’s clients come from his Twitter following. Mr. McGrath, a Squamish, B.C.-based certified financial planner (CFP) and investment advisor at PWL Capital Corp., writes daily posts that provide tips investors can use from financial planning strategies to hidden tax gems. He, in turn, responds actively to their tweets for more information or to have a live conversation online.
This past spring, one of his tweets went viral. In a rare move, Mr. McGrath let his followers peep behind the curtain of his personal life. In a 30-part thread, he tweeted the tragic circumstances of his father retiring early without a well-thought-out plan.
The thread generated more than 5.2-million impressions and he gained 4,000 new followers within a week of publishing. He believes letting his guard down and allowing himself to be vulnerable among online strangers showed the human side of being an advisor and why professional advice matters.
“A lot of people could relate to my story and it was a relevant topic no matter where you were located,” he says of the post. “If somebody happened to be thinking about that issue and read about somebody experiencing the same thing, they may reach out.”
Mr. McGrath notes that when prospects do reach out to use him as their advisor, many have been following his musings on Twitter for a long time.
“There may be a level of comfort they received from having those online interactions with me,” he says.
Mr. McGrath’s financial planning practice is mainly virtual, so he can serve clients nationwide. Most people who book meetings with him are in their 30s and 40s, but says, surprisingly, a 78-year-old got in touch.
Gaining prospects from online forums
Laura Whiteland, owner and CFP at Inclusive Financial Planning in Truro, N.S., tends to attract prospects through Facebook and Instagram, but not because of her posting pictures or articles. Instead, her clients on the same social media platforms recommend her services on online community forums where they collectively belong, such as an LGBTQ2+ buy-and-sell group.
“Some members are new to Nova Scotia and they’re trying to find more affirming and inclusive financial advice,” she says. “Some are looking for advisors who get them and their situation and with whom they feel like they can be vulnerable.”
She calls social media “today’s Yellow Pages,” but with a personal touch.
“You can see how people interact and get more of an idea [about them when] somebody reaches out and talks to you,” Ms. Whiteland says. “If you like the way that initial conversation started, it feels like a better fit. Whereas, Yellow Pages are more of a sales pitch.”
Tapping into what people want to know
Financial product sale pitches still abound on social media. So, if an advisor can educate online, that’s half the battle, says Anna Hilberry, wealth advisor and portfolio manager with The Hilberry Group Wealth Management at National Bank Financial Wealth Management in Duncan, B.C.
Ms. Hilberry posts financial literacy videos on YouTube, with each gaining around 50,000 page views. But she cautions advisors to look beyond the number of views.
“No client is just going to watch a video and say, ‘I want to deal with that person,’” she explains. “[Business] will come from a combination of everything.”
She notes that prospects may first hear about her services from friends. They then may conduct a web search, check out her website and connect with a video that resonates. Ms. Hilberry started videos as a way to stand out in an advisory team led by her father and attract a different generation of clients. She recalls watching the news one day in which an expert was talking in jargon, unapproachable language.
“I thought there was no way the average person knows what this person is talking about. Even I didn’t know some of the jargon and I have a degree in finance,” she says. “There’s value in providing information in plain language that people can understand.”
She attributes her success in videos due to consistency and figuring out topics of interest that relate to the masses. Her most popular video wasn’t even about finance per se but about Tesla Inc. and electric vehicles, for instance.
For advisors looking to beef up their social media presence, Mr. McGrath suggests finding an approach that allows them to be themselves. His niche? Talking about technical financial topics with people.
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