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A Will Alone Won’t Cut It

Only four in 10 Americans have a will, according to figures from AARP. And oftentimes people who have a will call their estate planning efforts good enough.

In addition to having to review their estate planning documents in light of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, clients must have other documents and plans in place to call their estate planning efforts complete.

CNBC reported in the article, “12 Financial Planning Documents to Handle Health, End-of-Life Care,” that your clients might need more. Clients should have the following documents in place and updated:

Healthcare proxy. Have your clients pick a person who can make medical decisions for them and then a back-up person in case their primary choice is unable to do it for some reason. Encourage clients to choose people who have the same ideas about quality of life, CNBC reported.

Living will. Ensure clients have a document that establishes what type of care they’d want in case of incapacitation, and make sure they put it in an easy-to-access spot for their family members. Should they get sick and they have their living will in a safe-deposit box, it won’t be easily accessible for family members in that time of stress.

Durable power of attorney. Have clients pick somebody who can pay bills and take care of other financial matters in case of incapacitation. The CNBC article reminds us that banks might have separate forms that need to be updated regularly.

Diminishing capacity letters. Bringing the topic of diminished capacity up to clients now, before their capacity starts to diminish, and creating a plan of action can help curb any confusion about what to do in the future. Ask clients to sign documentation of the plan so you have a specific course of action on who to contact and work with should this happen to them.

Pet trusts and letter of final wishes. Perhaps your client is the last living spouse and the dog or cat would be left all alone upon his or her death. Your client can establish a pet trust to provide for his or her pet’s needs and a letter of final wishes that determines who gets custody of the pet and the pet trust, Forbes reported in an article, “Estate Planning: Include Your Pets.”

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.

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Outbound Versus Inbound Marketing: Which Strategy Is Best for Financial Advisers?

There’s a battle raging in the corner of your business labeled “marketing.” It’s between two completely different methods for spreading the word about your firm and getting prospective clients in the door: outbound marketing versus inbound marketing.

Which strategy should win out? Which is going to win you the best results from your marketing efforts?

As someone who makes a living helping financial advisers leverage content as part of inbound marketing strategies, I’m admittedly biased. I believe that content should serve as the foundation for your marketing strategy.

But that doesn’t mean outbound marketing doesn’t have a role to play—and as biased as I am, I’m also professional enough to know there are some situations where outbound tactics will win.

Let’s take a closer look at this debate and help you determine which methodology is appropriate for your firm.

But First, The Difference Between Outbound Versus Inbound Marketing

You can’t make an informed decision about which strategy will win in your firm’s battle for the best marketing approach if you don’t truly understand each side of the fight and the differences between the two. Outbound marketing is traditional, old school stuff. It’s where marketing and advertising started, and it’s what a lot of businesses still rely on today. Outbound is:

  • Cold calling (or cold emailing or messaging)
  • Direct mail
  • Paid advertisements (online or off) or paid publicity
  • Trade shows/seminars
  • Interrupting someone to get their attention
  • Incurring a tangible, direct cost to acquiring a lead or client
  • Creating an advertising system that’s dependent on budget

Now let’s compare that with inbound marketing:

  • Content creation (written, visual or audio)
  • SEO
  • Social media
  • Public relations
  • Supporting events
  • Community involvement
  • Public speaking
  • Word of mouth

Inbound marketing earns someone’s attention. It gets their permission to communicate with leads and has low monetary cost of acquiring clients. It’s more dependent on messaging and connection than ad spends, and does not always cost money to do.

The Advantage Goes to Inbound If You’re Short on Budget

The internet has made inbound marketing possible—and massively popular and often profitable—because the cost of distribution of the tactics in this marketing methodology is often free. Think back to that list of outbound tactics. With each one, there’s a cost associated and therefore a limit to how widely you can spread your message. There are only so many stamps you can buy so you can send out your direct mail because your budget is only so big, right?

But with inbound marketing, most of the time, you get free supplies and free distribution channels. It’s popular not because some millennial said, “Hey man, blogging is cool,” or “All the kids are on social media these days,” but because it’s an incredible opportunity for unlimited reach without spending a dime. It’s just a smart business decision to invest in inbound marketing, which of course, content marketing is a part of.

You get a lot more bang for your buck and you also have what essentially amounts to unlimited upside. Your reach is virtually limitless because you’re dealing with digital space.

That being said, you must understand that these marketing methodologies could have a place in the overall marketing strategy for your firm if you want to be a successful marketer. There’s nothing wrong with either type of marketing. Both work.
They’re both very different, but that doesn’t mean there’s a “right” and a “wrong” here. It depends on your business, your goals, strengths and services or offers.

Use Both These Marketing Methodologies, But in the Right Order

I think the “outbound versus inbound marketing” debate is, ultimately, the wrong one to have. A far better question to ask is, “in which order should I layer on my marketing tactics?”

Start with inbound. Add on the direct mail or social media ads or whatever kind of cold outreach and paid advertising you want to do after you build a solid, organic ecosystem that houses a hyper-engaged audience of people who showed up to hear from you because they’d miss your message if it was gone.

Starting with content helps you build trust, relationships, and connections. But why? Why is this the case that we get these outcomes, and why specifically does content deliver these results where outbound marketing may just not do the trick?

Because 50 percent of people under 40 don’t trust financial advisers; 65 percent of investors distrust the financial advice industry as a whole; and 66 percent of the children of clients will fire their parents’ adviser when they inherit their assets.

I’m sure you’ve heard some of these stats before, and they’re daunting numbers to face. To succeed in the modern world, you have to change the way you communicate. You have to find new ways to attract clients.
Traditionally, most financial planning firms get stuck asking for referrals as the only way of building out a prospect pipeline. That’s really limiting; your ability to generate prospects lacks diversity this way.

And putting outbound or direct marketing tactics first tend to breed even more distrust than is already there. Neither buying the attention of potential clients (through ads) or interrupting and demanding attention (through cold calls or messages) builds authentic connections that allow prospects to feel like they know you (let alone like you).

Think about it: if someone’s first impression of you is as someone trying to sell something (as an ad implies), is the power of your later communication going to be strong enough to convince them you’re there for the relationship, not just to make a sale off their business and trust in you?

Which Would You Rather Do: Create a Space Where People Can Like and Trust You, or Just Keep Selling?

That’s where content marketing makes a difference because you earn your prospective client’s attention. You create, publish, distribute and promote content to attract the right people with the right message and the right time.

Content marketing creates a space where people want to come to you and work with your firm because they trust and like you.

If you sell a product or focus on transactions, you can likely succeed without high-quality content as part of your marketing strategy. You can get away with just scraping information from site visitors using cookies and ad pixels, then use retargeting ads to interrupt a separate web experience those people were having at a later date.

I’m sure this has happened to you—where you’ve visited a site and then that site’s ads follow you around everywhere. Is it effective? Sure. I know it is, because there’s more than one thing I’ve bought after seeing countless ads for it. But that was with a thing, not with a relationship.

If you focus on relationships rather than transactions, you should really consider how you can develop a connection with those site visitors before you make your hard sell. Content allows you to establish yourself as a trusted partner, communicate why you versus the thousands of other financial advisers out there and build a relationship before you ask for anything in return.

You don’t need to sell anyone if you create useful, helpful content. The right content can expand your reach, establish your authority, increase your influence, attract prospects and leads and, most importantly, build trust between you and the people you want to serve.

If I had to declare a winner in the outbound versus inbound marketing debate, I might call it a draw—as long as inbound marketing gets your attention first, and you look to build on it with outbound tactics once you’ve established trust with the people you want to work with.

 Kali Hawlk is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.

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Connecting with Clients Who Aren’t Tech Savvy

Many of us tend to stereotype clients of a certain age as “too old” to be tech savvy. After all, the average age in terms of tech savviness gets younger every day. But what if you take a different perspective? Perhaps clients are never too old. Indeed, maybe they would even welcome the opportunity to step up their use of technology!

Let’s start with this scenario: You want your clients to be knowledgeable and comfortable using technology for a review meeting. That way, if they relocate to a warmer climate or are no longer physically able to come to the office, for example, you can still stay connected. Plus, you may believe (as some planners do) that technology-based review meetings are not only more concise but also higher quality. So, what does it take to prepare clients who may not seem tech savvy for a technology-based review meeting?

Beta Best Practices

A good place to start is with a beta approach. Here, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. First, brainstorm a list of two to five clients who you think would be good candidates for a beta test. Reach out to them, explaining to each one the value of conducting a remote review meeting using technology. Then, simply ask them if they would like to participate. If no, end of story. If yes, it’s time to get started.

For this example, we’ll use the iPad as our technology of choice, although there are certainly other options that could work. You’ll need to set up your iPads using the appropriate links so they provide a secure connection. Remember, less is more. The goal is to make it easy for clients by having only the essentials available on the iPad.

Once the iPads have everything they need for clients to connect to a meeting, send them to beta users for the sole purpose of the review meeting. To help familiarize clients with how to use it, include easy-to-understand instructions either with the iPad or directly on it. You might also schedule a phone call to provide a short training session. Now, it’s time to put it to the test.

Try the iPads for one meeting shortly after the training—maybe even the next day. Ask for feedback! If your clients like it, plan on using the iPad for the next review meeting. If not? Simply have them return the iPads to you.

Hidden Benefits and Risks

Of course, there are some clients who don’t even own a computer. You might find that these individuals are the ones who may ask you to talk with their tech-savvy kids. That’s a good thing—and a great opportunity. The kids may see you as taking a novel approach to supporting their parents. On the other hand, what if this strategy is so wildly successful that clients start contacting you 10 times a day? As mentioned above, be sure to establish that the iPad is for review meetings only. Any communication in between meetings can be handled the traditional way—a phone call.

Finally, what if your clients talk to others about how they have reviews with their planner via iPad and from the comfort of their own homes? Positive word of mouth is always a good thing. Plus, innovation presents your firm as young and vital.

Technology Supports Human Connection

Individuals born with technology in hand will be more sophisticated than those who adopt it in their 40s. But millennials are actually the ones who have the most to gain from ideas like this. Who knows where the concept of providing an iPad could lead? What would it mean for clients who adopt this idea to be reminded of you with a beautiful photo, a joke of the day or an inspirational quote? These simple reminders can support the human connection if the foundation is properly laid—in this case—by using an iPad as an enhancement to human relationships.

Now, I know this particular approach won’t be for everyone. If not, what novel idea can you try that can help you stay connected to—and show how much you care about—your clients?

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Joni Youngwirth is managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass.

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Study Shows Keys to Future Success—If You Know Where to Look

Wealth management in 2018 is a tough business.

There has never been more competition, product options are more plentiful, and information (both to you and your clients) is more available than ever before. Successful wealth managers must combine technical financial market skills with people management skills, all while new regulations and technological advancements move the goalposts. With these dynamics pulling at every advisory firm, the question becomes, “What can I do to set myself apart?”

A recent study we at Exponential ETFs commissioned to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) might have a few answers. The ACSI is a national economic indicator based on customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the U.S. The ACSI measures companies across the spectrum of the U.S. economy and recently released the findings of their 2017 Financial Advisors Report. The topline conclusions of the study are noteworthy and fairly intuitive:

  • The industry is highly rated relative to other industries, coming in at 81 on a scale from 0 to 100. Financial advice is the ninth-highest rated industry by the ACSI.
  • The industry is competitive. The “spread” between the highest and lowest rated firms were very tight (4 points).
  • There does not seem to be a tremendous advantage to firm structure (i.e. wirehouse versus independent versus RIA) when it comes to satisfying customers.

You are probably thinking at this point, “The study concludes we work in a competitive industry that has little differentiation. That is not at all helpful.” And if you looked only at the top-line results, you would be right. But peel the onion a little deeper and some useful insights appear. In this case, one must look at the underlying responses from the survey.

Before that, it is important to note that we in financial services do not, in fact, live in a vacuum. While we go about our day-to-day, the world outside our door does roll onward. This is noteworthy for three reasons:

  1. The world and how people interact with it has changed forever due to technological advancements.
  2. Your clients will continue to cycle through their life path.
  3. According to MetLife estimates, $30 trillion to $41 trillion will change hands between the baby boomers and Generation X/millennials between 2011 and 2048.

In short, your clients of tomorrow will look and behave very differently than your clients today. Technology has advanced and complicated the means through which we communicate, and managing this in the future will be key to success. The greatest risk (and opportunity) for any wealth manager is the transition from one generation to the next.

This brings us back to the underlying responses to the ACSI study. Out of the 12 categories measured, the three areas that received the lowest scores from customers were advisers’ clear explanation of prices and fees, the frequency of personal contact and mobile options. These three areas of relative weakness provide the greatest opportunity for an adviser to set him or herself apart because of the personalized nature of each. But these areas of weakness also provide a warning sign of things to come as the multi-generational wealth transfer continues. Here are some thoughts on each:

  • Clearly explaining prices and fees. Financial professionals provide a great service to their clients, but they must more clearly articulate their fee while also tying it into a broader discussion regarding value. In the final analysis, a good financial adviser brings discipline and structure to their clients’ financial plans. This should not be an exercise in “justifying” your fee, but rather explaining it.
  • Frequency of personal contact. The ideal amount of personal contact will vary from person to person and is typically more a statement on when you connect than how frequently you connect. Every adviser should have a list of clients they need to call during certain triggers, like during market volatility, before tax season, etc.
  • Providing mobile options for account management. The highly regulated nature of wealth management makes this a challenge, however it speaks to the overall need to embrace technology and, more importantly, work with your clients on their terms. Again, this will be of utmost importance as the next generation of tech-savvy clients comes of age.

The ACSI study provides confirmation that the wealth management industry has struck the right chord overall with its clients. The wealth management experience is strong. However, underlying these conclusions lies both a warning that the next generation of clients will require an evolved service model, as well as an opportunity for advisers who are up for the challenge.

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Kevin Quigg is the chief strategist at Exponential ETFs, where he is responsible for business strategy, investor relations and client development for Exponential investment products.

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How Financial Planners Can Get Started with SEO to Get More Site Traffic

If your content doesn’t land on the first page of a Google search result, it probably won’t get read. Seventy percent of people who use Google to search for something don’t look past the first page of results.

You need to make sure your website page or blog post lands somewhere on that first page. But how do you do it?

SEO, of course.

SEO stands for search engine optimization, or the process of getting a particular page to rank higher in the results a search engine delivers in response to a query. And if you want to leverage SEO to your benefit, it helps to know how search engines work.

The Job of Search Engines: Index Everything

Search engines like Google attempt to index every page on the web in order to suggest pages for users looking for something specific online. They use bots called spiders to crawl the web in order to index everything that’s out there.

The spiders, or web crawlers, look for certain indicators of a page’s content, quality and value. They need to understand what web pages are about and who they’re most relevant for if they want to do a good job allowing the search engine to return relevant results when someone types something specific into the search bar.

When we use search engine optimization, we try to give web crawlers the information they need to understand our web pages, posts and content. That way, they know how to deliver that content to people who search the web for something related to what we do and can provide for them.

To make SEO work for us, we need to make sure the page we want to rank well in search results gives the search engines what they need to understand that “this is a valuable piece of relevant content.”

Use Relevant Keywords to Create Content That Performs Well in Search

Keywords, according to Moz.com, are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called “search queries.”

In the early days of the Internet, you could optimize your content around a single word or term, like “adviser,” or “financial planner.” That’s pretty much impossible to do today due to the amount of competition out there that also tries to rank for those simple words and terms.

It would be a miracle if you were able to rank as the first result for “financial planner”—it would be a miracle, or it would require a massive amount of money to do.

That might sound like a bummer, but there’s a solution that not only works well but also generates higher-quality traffic for your site (and that means more qualified leads): instead of choosing a single word as a keyword, you’ll want to focus on long-tail keywords.

Long tail keywords are phrases made up of about three to five words that are highly specific to what you provide or what you sell. You want to target long tail keywords that are relevant to your audience with very few other websites trying to rank for them.

How to Choose the Right Keyword

The tricky part about SEO is nailing down just the right keyword that you want to try to rank for. If you choose a keyword based on what you think is important, your content probably won’t perform well in search.

You have to consider what your audience thinks is important.

You can’t know the best keywords to choose and build content around without considering who you want to reach. You need to know your audience. Put on your audience’s shoes, experience what it’s like to walk in them, then address their needs, desires, curiosities, questions and more.

The more deeply you understand what your audience wants, the easier it is to market yourself to that group of people.

This is actually where I start in the SEO course I created for financial planners, Using SEO: The Comprehensive But Not Complicated Guide to Get More Organic Traffic to Your Site. We drill down deeply to understanding your particular audience before we ever talk about creating SEO optimized content.

But don’t worry: we get there, too. In fact, the course covers everything you need to know about leveraging search engine optimization through simple, proven processes that put more eyeballs on your website, including:

  • How to validate your keyword ideas
  • How to create content that’s optimized for SEO (including a handy checklist)
  • How to balance creating content for search engines and their algorithms, and writing for the actual humans who are supposed to enjoy your content once they find it
  • How to optimize your whole site (not just your blog posts)
  • How to improve your offsite SEO

…and a lot more. If you want to take a comprehensive, but not overly complicated, dive into search engine optimization and how your firm can use it to get more site traffic, check out the course here.

FPA members receive $50 off the regular price of the course. Just use code FPAINSIDER to get your discount.

 Kali Hawlk is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.


Let’s Stop the Dangerous Notion Asset Management is Commoditized


The emergence of low-cost investment solutions like robo-advisers and model marketplaces has elicited statements by earnest pundits about the “commoditization” of asset management. These well-meaning observers misunderstand the significance of what is happening in our industry and are planting the seed of a dangerous idea.

Merriam Webster defines “commoditize” as “to render a good or service widely available and interchangeable with one provided by another company.” Certainly, asset management services are widely available, but they are far from interchangeable. The suggestion that they are is harmful to planners and investors alike.

If you think asset management has been commoditized, consider these facts from the Morningstar database (I have eliminated obvious outliers.):

  • In the ETF Strategist category (50 percent-70 percent equity), returns for 2017 ranged from 17.44 percent to 10.33 percent—a 700-plus basis point difference.
  • The 2017 returns for U.S. Value ETFs ranged from 27.11 percent to 18.7 percent—an 800-plus basis point difference.
  • The 2017 returns for U.S. High Dividend ETFs ranged from 25.84 percent to 15.86 percent—a 1,000 basis point difference.
  • The 2017 returns for U.S. Momentum ETFs ranged from 44.13 percent to 26.94 percent—a 1,700 basis point difference.

The size of these spreads in seemingly generic product categories show that asset management has not been commoditized. Even “passively” managed products like U.S. Value ETFs can produce a wide range of results.

The differences show up in areas other than one-year performance results. The U.S. Value ETF with the highest one-year performance had an expense ratio that was three times that of the U.S. Value ETF with the lowest performance—0.15 percent versus 0.05 percent. Do you get what you pay for? Not necessarily. The U.S. Momentum ETF with the highest performance had an expense ratio that was less than one-quarter of the expense ratio of the lowest performer—0.15 percent versus 0.64 percent.

Differences like this exist everywhere in the asset management industry. Look closely at any type or category of asset manager—active mutual funds, ETFs, SMAs or fund strategists—and you will find wide disparities in both performance and expense ratios. These products are not interchangeable. They are highly differentiated. Clearly, they are not commodities.

What we are witnessing is not the commoditization of asset management, but rather the “industrialization” of asset management services. Manual labor is being replaced by mechanized systems of mass production. Individual craftsmen are being replaced by assembly lines. We are seeing the efficient division of labor among specialists. Technology is allowing innovations in the manufacture, delivery and pricing of products and services.

Although the term “industrialization” sounds old-school in our high-tech world, it far more accurately describes the transformation we are witnessing than “commoditization.” The fact that a product is more widely available and its price is dropping does not make it a commodity.

Computers, cell phones and big-screen TVs are all more widely available and significantly cheaper than they were five years ago. But there are differences in their performance, functionality and quality. They are not interchangeable. If you think they are, ask an iPhone user to switch to a Samsung, but cover your ears first so you won’t hear their howls.

Let’s drop this dangerous notion that asset management has been commoditized. People might actually start to believe that portfolios are like bags of sugar on a grocery store shelf. They are not. Asset management is being made more accessible and less expensive than in days gone by. But caveat emptor—due diligence and thoughtfulness are still important.

Editor’s Note: Scott MacKillop wrote about this topic for WealthManagement.com. You can find that article here.

Scott MacKillop is CEO of First Ascent Asset Management, a Denver-based firm that provides investment management services to financial advisors and their clients. He is a 40-year veteran of the financial services industry. He can be reached at scott@firstascentam.com.




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Advisers, Step into Social or Get Left Behind

When I became the social media manager for the SEI Advisor Network social media was something I had only mastered personally (obligatory weekly pictures of my kids to assure my friends and family that they are still alive), not professionally. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to managing multiple social media platforms, accounts, contributors and behind-the-scenes resources (like compliance). My researching skills and love of learning became the biggest tools in my toolbox, and I’ve learned a lot—most importantly, that it’s never too late to jump into social professionally. But there are some baby steps you can take to make that jump a little less scary.

Friend Requests

First and foremost, find a mentor. Whether it’s someone in your office, a colleague in the industry, one of your clients, or even your teenager, find someone you trust—someone who can show you the ropes and not judge you for the endless questions you will inevitably have. Social media doesn’t have to be scary—but it can be overwhelmingly vast. Sure, you can read and learn about all the different platforms, but if you can find a friend or acquaintance with some knowledge of the platforms you aren’t familiar with, that’s half the battle.

The toughest thing about social media is that it’s a constantly changing medium. Even the big players (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) have updates that get pushed out to users with little to no advance notification. While this keeps the platform fresh, it also means that learning all you can about the platform isn’t as easy as a Google search. There’s a lot of outdated information floating around in cyberspace.

For a self-learner like me, this was a bit of an obstacle. I like to research and go to training and classes, and even watch the occasional YouTube tutorial. It took me a hot minute to learn that this tried-and-true tactic was futile in “social-land.” It wasn’t until I found a mentor who also works in our highly regulated industry that I really felt like I was getting the education and pointers I needed. I speak to my mentor regularly—we discuss what each of us is doing, our goals for the year, things we’ve tested, etc. We learn from each other’s successes and missteps, and I’m happy to report I’ve taught her a thing or two, as well.

Speaking of Testing…

I think the most fear-provoking element of social is “doing it wrong.” I’m here to tell you—you will do something wrong and you will make mistakes. But you will also learn from them.

While it’s true that online content potentially lives forever, there is always a delete button. The chance of you making a mistake that will have dire or long-lasting consequences for you and your business is pretty low. More likely, you will make some typos, schedule some posts for the middle of the night, or upload the wrong media file.

It’s okay!

You have to be okay taking a chance to try things like video posts, writing your own blog or sharing an opinion piece that isn’t so mainstream. You will learn quickly what resonates with your connections and what doesn’t. Testing is a very important tool in social.

The best part of social media is the interaction. Not all interactions have to be positive, some of the best social interactions are discussions of differing viewpoints. You may even learn something.

And if the test fails? Learn something from it and move on.

Stay in Your Comfort Zone…For Now

Chances are you don’t need to be well versed in all platforms (are you really going to be utilizing Snapchat for your advisory business?), so just focus on one.

If you are comfortable with Facebook, start there. According to The 2016 Putnam Social Advisor Survey, Facebook is showing continued growth as a preferred adviser platform. The reason? Facebook is where your clients are, and it’s perfect for casual contact due to the ongoing personal interaction it offers.

Facebook is a great forum to engage with your clients on key life events such as marriages, births, travel, retirement and more. It’s the platform that offers the most potential for client engagement and communication—especially between your regularly scheduled client review meetings.

Get Started Already!

Here are some things you can do to get started:

  • Ask your clients about their social media use. What platforms do they use, how do they use them? How do their answers align with your social media plan? Are you where your clients are?
  • Share relevant content. See an article on the best locations to retire? Share it! The content doesn’t have to be YOUR content. SEI creates a weekly Market Minute videos and weekly commentaries that are ripe for the picking. You may also be interested in partnering with a service like AdvisorStream or Vestorly, which curate content that you can share socially.
  • Be consistent. Have a schedule and stick to it. Consistent posting will help your clients get into the habit of checking for new material and information from you. Above all else, commit to your plan. Services like Hootsuite and Buffer can be invaluable tools for scheduling posts for when your audience is most likely online. The worst thing you can do is build an audience and then leave them hanging.
  • Listen and monitor. Don’t just throw content out there and walk away. If people comment, comment back. Reply to all comments, both positive and negative. Check to see if your content has been shared (a potential lead). Be social!

As you gain confidence (and hopefully followers) on Facebook (or the platform of your choosing), consider branching out to other social platforms. The great thing about social is the ability to cross-leverage content. Or maybe one platform is enough for you—it’s your call.

Fake It Until You Make It

I feel like this is my life motto. I’ve taken big risks in my life and tried my hand at many jobs that maybe I wasn’t 100 percent ready to take on. But I’ve never regretted any of them. Be confident in your decision to try something new. There comes a time when you can make all the plans in the world, but if you aren’t out there, you aren’t being social.

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Heather Wilson is the social media manager in the SEI Advisor Network. She also oversees the development and execution of the Advisor Network’s large-scale national and regional client conferences. She is a regular contributor for SEI’s practice management blog, Practically Speaking.