Advisors are seeing greater success through social media than ever before. In the sixth release of the Putnam Social Advisor Survey, 92% of advisors using social media for business reported seeing asset gains attributable to social networking. In the initial survey in 2013, only 49% of advisors reported gaining new clients through social media.
The median age of a new client gained through social media jumped to 40 from 35 in 2017 as social media matures beyond its youthful origins and develops traction with older (and potentially higher asset) prospects. In the 12 months preceding the survey, the average asset gain was $1.4M.
A new communications medium
In 2018, 57% of advisors told us they are using social media a great deal to make initial contact with prospects, up from 52% in 2017. And 47% are connecting with existing clients’ adult children and heirs via social media.
- More than two thirds (67%) say they have more frequent communication with clients as a result of social media; yet 44% note that they connect with their clients less often by phone or in person than before
- Seven in ten (70%) say it is easier to share information with their clients
- Fifty-seven percent say decision-making is faster and easier
According to a 58-year-old bank advisor, “Social media sets forth a trend of global instant communication — something that has and will define the coming decades.”
The rise of the experts
Approximately 1.4% of respondents reported that social media has been responsible for 10% of recent gains to their book of business. These experts share some common traits: They are focusing on LinkedIn, are active on social about three times daily, consider social media a very significant part of their practice, and are using a premium level of service such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator. They have also typically received formal training on social media, either through home office resources or an investment company partner.
Interestingly, when asked to rate their fluency in social media, 61% declared themselves to be “experts.” But, according to our internal benchmarks, only about 15% could actually be considered according the the scoring developed for our Social Media Maturity Curve tool.
Change on the horizon
The percentage of advisors not using social media for business remains stubbornly in the 15% to 17% range. However, a shift in opinion emerged this year: Of those not using social media for business, 28% told us they were “absolutely certain” they would be using social media for business in the next three years, compared with 9% reported in 2017.
The Putnam Social Advisor Survey was conducted online November–December 2018 in partnership with NMG consulting. The survey included 1,021 U.S. financial advisors currently advising retail clients and who have been doing so for more than two years. This is the sixth annual iteration of the survey.