Using digital channels to drive action amongst financial advisers
A new study by Greenwich Associates and LinkedIn paints a picture of Financial Advisers at a crossroads, with a rise in a more digital and responsive way of working
January 19, 2021
The economic volatility of 2020 brought both risks and opportunities to the financial services sector. While unpredictable markets sparked nervousness amongst investors, the widespread uncertainty means that they need trusted advice and information more than ever to safeguard their investments. This gives financial services marketers the ideal opportunity to differentiate their brand and become a trusted voice, to both financial advisers(FAs) and their clients during these complex times.
A study by Greenwich Associates, commissioned by LinkedIn, paints a picture of FAs at a crossroads, where a range of macro trends, including Covid-19, are giving rise to a more digital and responsive way of working. Advisers have moved online, both due to pandemic restrictions, and as a way to connect with a new generation of investors. Financial services firms must therefore ensure that they too are maximising these channels to inform, influence and drive commercial impact at the moment when investment decisions are made.
Providing quality, timely content
The unpredictability of 2020 meant that almost half of FAs (46%) were spending more time discussing market movements with their clients, and they are increasingly turning to digital channels for the timely and relevant information they need. Eight in 10 FAs now use LinkedIn as a source of news and information, placing it ahead of the Financial Times, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, FAs clocked significantly more content searches on LinkedIn in the first half of last year, on topics such as retirement planning (128%), wealth management (119%), buy-to-let (117%) and savings (117%).
This constant demand for information opens up a huge opportunity for asset managers to provide FAs with up-to the-minute insights and advice, while simultaneously raising awareness of their products and services. With nearly half of FAs saying that they see asset managers as a trusted source of information (47%), placing them alongside industry publications (48%) and independent research firms (47%), this content is likely to be well received.
Nevertheless, content must be high quality and professional to capture FAs’ attention amid a flurry of competing sources. White papers (50%), text articles (47%), newsletters (31%) and images or infographics (25%), are all popular, while many are also exploring emerging formats such as video (12%) and podcasts (7%). Webinars are another tactic that has proved successful for relationship building and differentiation this year, with nearly half of FAs (45%) saying they have attended more of these virtual events in the last six months.
Understanding FA pain points
Social channels aren’t just a resource for pushing out content, however, they are also a useful tool for understanding the issues that FAs are thinking about and discussing. Through monitoring posts and popular groups, such as Finance Club, Banking Careers and Financial Adviser Magazine marketers can keep their finger on the pulse of the challenges facing advisers and produce content that will meet their needs at the right time. Marketers can also use data from online platforms to build a detailed picture of their target demographics, understand their motivations and preferences, and target their content accordingly.
Content marketing is an unrivalled tool for reaching and informing FAs, but how can marketers ensure that they are actually persuading them, and ultimately their clients, to choose their products over competitors?
Advisers told Greenwich Associates that they are influenced by a range of factors when making fund recommendations, including who the portfolio manager is (42%), relationships (32%), and the asset manager brand (31%). Furthermore, the view of the end investor is also crucial, with three quarters (75%) of FAs reporting that clients come to them requesting a specific product, and 76% saying that clients are more likely to accept recommendations if they already know the brand.
Marketers should therefore be looking to leverage these factors as much as possible. For example, can they raise the profile of individual portfolio managers through their own social account, blogging profile or online events? Or can they invest in building brand awareness, via above-the-line tactics on the apps, social media channels and websites where retail investors spend their time?
Financial advisors have been relatively slow to evolve over recent years, however 2020 felt like a tipping point, when a number of factors drove rapid digitisation across the sector. Smart marketers must therefore start to think more laterally about how they reach and influence this vital audience, through a push-pull approach, of timely, digital first, quality content, and brand building to remain front of mind with those who ultimately hold the purse strings.
LinkedIn is the ideal platform for making this approach a reality, enabling marketers to publish FA-targeted advice and information, stimulate relevant, insightful discussions through financial groups, and position account managers as leading experts in their field. Meanwhile, informative content and above-the-line brand advertising can be targeted directly at retail investors, achieving the ‘pull’ which is vital to close the sale.
To read more about how to reach FAs in 2021 and beyond, check out the full research report.