The Social Financial Advisor: A Path Forward

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1 The Social Financial Advisor: A Path Forward Take the Right Route to Using Social Media by Chris Estes Todd Inskeep

2 Getting Social Is It Time for Advisors to Face Up? Financial advisors, by nature, are good with numbers, so it s not hard for them to recognize that social media could be an invaluable tool for identifying and serving their clients. Social networks and blogs reach nearly 80 percent of active U.S. Internet users, and interaction with them consumes the majority of Americans time online. 1 As many people use social networks today as used the entire Internet in Many advisors have already ventured into the social waters. A 2011 survey of financial professionals found 86 percent had a social media profile, up from 73 percent in Personal rather than business usage remains dominant, but more than half the survey participants saw social media as an emerging trend with significant future business potential. Still, advisors and the financial institutions that employ them are proceeding cautiously. Some remain unconvinced of social media s value in their highly personal, relationshipdriven business. Perhaps the single biggest factor giving advisors pause, though, is the set of guidelines for social media usage issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in Complying with the detailed FINRA rules governing social media activity is unquestionably a rigorous undertaking. However, firms that recognize social media s potential and develop the business case to capitalize on it can position themselves to gain competitive advantage. It's important that they use time-tested analytical methodologies to understand the social landscape, quantify the opportunities and risks, and deploy a sound social media strategy that will help grow their business and increase profitability, while complying with FINRA and other regulatory requirements. The Social Media Opportunity for Advisors Relationships fuel financial advisory services. Leading advisors balance their time between networking among their existing and prospective clientele to make connections and conducting the financial analysis needed to help clients meet their goals. Technology already supports advisors across their business activities, from analyzing clients risk tolerance, to establishing financial goals, to recommending investment mixes. Phone calls and s maintain the communication thread between in-person meetings. Social media can help advisors scale their business to increase information sharing and build a sense of community among their clients. Advisors can improve connections across their business, while freeing time to develop new clientele and strengthen relationships with their best clients in face-to-face encounters. Among the potential benefits of social media for advisors are Higher sales value. Whether they work for a large bank, a brokerage, or independently, financial advisors are businesses unto themselves in many ways. Social media have the potential to provide smaller enterprises in particular with efficient, unique tools for gaining marketplace access, building and growing lasting relationships, and improving ROI. 4 Because financial advisors are essentially small businesses, social media offer especially promising new avenues to business growth. Connecting with clients. People find a financial advisor in many ways a recommendation from a friend or colleague, an encounter at a social event, a thoughtful article by an advisor that catches their attention. Endorsement by satisfied clients is one of the most valuable business-building tools for advisors. Social media help create a network effect that enables clients to recommend their financial advisor subtly and to a broader audience. A client who posts a Facebook Like in response to an advisor s post on baseball effectively puts the advisor in front of the client s friends, an average of 130 people Reports/nielsen-social-media-report.pdf -or Study.pdf 4 1

3 Demonstrating community and professional interest. Social networking provides an ongoing sense of a community s interests, opinions, and conversations regarding brands, products, and services. Establishing social media links with existing and potential clients helps advisors both demonstrate their own interests and learn about those of their connections. Over time, the blend of communications about personal interests, charitable and civic involvements, activity on behalf of clients, and thoughtful reflection on financial strategies encourages engagement and demonstrates advisors commitment to their profession and community. The resulting advisor portrait can build trust with clients and prospects and expand connections. Understanding FINRA s Impact The aim of the FINRA guidelines is to protect investors from false or misleading claims and representations made using social media. The guidelines spell out how firms should supervise their personnel s social media participation. FINRA is striving to define its rules flexibly enough that firms can communicate with clients and investors using this new channel. Still, the guidelines are rigorous, including Social media activity approval and recordkeeping (Rule 2210). FINRA does not require that a firm principal pre-approve social media engagement. However, it does require establishment of policies and encourages use of risk-based principles to determine the appropriate amount of review. Supervision (Rule 3010). Social networks offer multiple ways to communicate with customers, including status updates, discussion boards, , and chat. Policies should account for the unique communication channels available on each social networking site. Recommendations/testimonials (Rule 206(4)). Distributing testimonials regarding the advice, analysis, and other services an advisor provides could be considered a fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative act under FINRA. For example, a LinkedIn recommendation of the advisor could be perceived as a violation. Books and records (Rule 3110). Social networking activity, such as status updates and Twitter tweets, fall under the guidelines for advertisements and sales literature and must be captured. Sending an using social networks, such as a Facebook message or LinkedIn InMail, or an instant message, can also be considered correspondence. Third-party posts (Rule 2210/Notice 10-06). Third-party posts may become attributable to the firm, depending on whether the firm was involved in preparing the content or endorsed or approved it. Re-tweeting a third party s tweet or liking a Facebook comment can be seen as an endorsement by the firm. In addition to the comprehensive FINRA guidelines, various rules promulgated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission require retention, preservation, accessibility, redundancy, and recordkeeping of social media content. How to Proceed The FINRA requirements are rigorous, and they represent only one of the costs and risks associated with using social media. Beyond simply complying, firms will need to dedicate resources and commit to maintaining a social presence to capture meaningful benefits and return on their investment. Still, the continuing growth in social media engagement presents opportunities that are too great to ignore. Firms and advisers are at varying stages of social media readiness. Some firms are remaining on the sidelines for now, or limiting their social media engagement to internal audiences, using it primarily as an employee collaboration tool. Most large banks have a Facebook landing page for high-level product promotion and marketing. Many are nurturing Likes and comments and conducting small surveys. Using Facebook, Twitter, and other channels to engage directly with clients is a major, potentially risky step 5 2

4 in a firm s social media evolution. The path will be similar to the one taken to incorporate the Internet into business but will occur at an accelerated rate. So how should firms proceed? Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading strategy and technology firm, thinks three highly refined, extensively used tools can provide the framework for firms to understand the social media landscape, assess their level of preparedness, and take the right steps to expand their social media engagement. These steps are A social media quick-look assessment Social community analysis Strategic simulation, or wargaming. Firms will have varying requirements for each step, depending in part on the extent of their current social engagement. Social media quick-look assessment. A critical early step is to understand whether the firm is ready to go beyond using social media for internal purposes and limited marketing activity. To put social media in action for other business purposes, firms need transactional capabilities and other tools to take advantage of social media s scale and network effect. The quick-look assessment helps determine whether the firm has the technologies, processes, and people to engage in social media. It addresses key dimensions of social readiness, including social monitoring, social policies for employee use and customer interaction, and social strategy goals. The quick-look assessment measures the performance and capabilities of a firm against the characteristics of a mature, high-performing organization. The three main types of quick-look assessments are Broad review of how the firm is performing Evaluation of the firm s readiness to adopt social tools Functional assessment of specific core processes critical to social media engagement. All three assessments follow a standard process and use proven tools, including a maturity assessment, scorecards, community models, and a roadmap and work plan for developing an integrated social media program. Social community analysis. Stakeholders for financial firms include competitors, regulators, bloggers, and clients, as well as employees and shareholders. All these stakeholders discuss the firm and its brand, products, and service. Social community analysis identifies the stakeholders inside and outside the firm who will affect the success of social strategies, and it explores their interest in the success, management, and failure of organizational strategies. The goal of social community analysis is to scope the social space and its capabilities: Who is involved in the community? What do they gain from or provide to the community and firm? How does the social space interact with other activities such as mobile communications, payments, sales, and brand management? Social community analysis is a subset of mission engineering, an integrated analysis methodology and framework for understanding complex problem spaces. Mission engineering focuses on the holistic integration of people, process, technology, and infrastructure across common views. It is an iterative analytical approach that leverages an objectoriented framework and suite of solutions to clearly capture, catalog, model, and communicate technical intent and interdependencies to technical and nontechnical audiences. 3

5 Strategic simulation. The quick-time assessment and community analysis help the firm better understand its own capabilities and the social media environment essential information in developing a social media strategy. Strategic simulation, or social wargaming, can help the firm determine whether it's heading down the right path. In strategic simulation, a firm uses realistic scenarios to assess competitive risks and rewards and to test goals and objectives. Each simulation is one of a kind, designed to capture the impact of qualitative and quantitative forces on complex problems in changing environments. The basic assumption is that old rules don t apply anymore and most players don t know what the new rules will be. For example, firms might be considering whether to conduct financial advisor trades in Facebook. What does this mean for the industry? Should they be early entrants in the space to gain share? Strategic simulation explores the implications of such a decision, including risk and compliance issues and technology requirements, providing new insight into the firm s social media maturity and readiness. Booz Allen Can Help You Be Ready for What s Next Booz Allen expects social media to become transactional in nature and thus commerce will occur through social media. We have the expertise and proven tools to help you begin the process of incorporating social media into your business. Our team of social commerce experts will work with you to assess whether your firm is ready to take the next step in using social media. If you are ready, we can help you define your firm s social community and identify how social media can help you reach and interact with that community. Finally, Booz Allen will help you make sure you are headed in the right direction by testing proposed strategies using social wargaming. Whether you re managing today s issues or looking beyond the horizon, count on us to help you be ready for what s next. A New Sphere of Opportunity The personal the social nature of financial advisory services makes social media one of the most promising avenues to provide return on investment for a financial institution. It is also one of the most complex to implement, with significant regulatory requirements and potential effect on client relationships. Firms that proceed methodically using well-tested processes can address the intricacies and issues associated with advisors using social media. Advisors can use social channels to expand and strengthen their client relationships. Firms can look to expand their well-tuned social media operation to other parts of the business, such as mortgage brokerage and branch operations. 4

6 About the Authors Chris Estes, a Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, leads the firm s team of social commerce experts who develop go-to-market strategies in social media spanning business, marketing, risk, and technology functions. He has more than 20 years of financial services leadership experience with a concentration in retail banking, developing strategies that bridge business and technology during transformations. Mr. Estes experience includes the entire development life cycle from business strategy, requirements, and process transformation, to technology implementation and maintenance. He has leadership experience in building and managing cross-functional delivery teams in multi-channel banking across ecommerce, Branch, and Contact Centers Social Media. Mr. Estes attended the Yale University Strategic Leadership Program and holds a bachelor s degree in Communications from Mercer University (Macon, Georgia). Contact Information: Todd Inskeep, a Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, supports the firm s team of social commerce experts who develop go-to-market strategies in social media spanning business, marketing, risk, and technology functions. His work centers on strategy, processes, and platforms leading to successful social media engagement. Mr. Inskeep is working on go-to-market strategies for digital financial services, including social commerce, as well as mobile, payments, and risk management efforts for Global Fortune 500 companies. He has more than 20 years of security and financial services leadership experience focused on applying leadingedge technologies to solving business problems, and building solutions that bridge technology and business. His experience has led to multiple patent applications, and time as an Executive-in-Residence at the MIT Media Lab s Center for Future Banking. Mr. Inskeep holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence. Chris Estes Todd Inskeep Principal Senior Associate

7 About Booz Allen Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of strategy and technology consulting for nearly a century. Today, Booz Allen is a leading provider of management and technology consulting services to the US government in defense, intelligence, and civil markets, and to major corporations, institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. In the commercial sector, the firm focuses on leveraging its existing expertise for clients in the financial services, healthcare, and energy markets, and to international clients in the Middle East. Booz Allen offers clients deep functional knowledge spanning strategy and organization, engineering and operations, technology, and analytics which it combines with specialized expertise in clients mission and domain areas to help solve their toughest problems. The firm s management consulting heritage is the basis for its unique collaborative culture and operating model, enabling Booz Allen to anticipate needs and opportunities, rapidly deploy talent and resources, and deliver enduring results. By combining a consultant s problem-solving orientation with deep technical knowledge and strong execution, Booz Allen helps clients achieve success in their most critical missions as evidenced by the firm s many client relationships that span decades. Booz Allen helps shape thinking and prepare for future developments in areas of national importance, including cybersecurity, homeland security, healthcare, and information technology. Booz Allen is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, employs more than 25,000 people, and had revenue of $5.59 billion for the 12 months ended March 31, Fortune has named Booz Allen one of its 100 Best Companies to Work For for seven consecutive years. Working Mother has ranked the firm among its 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers annually since More information is available at (NYSE: BAH) To learn more about the firm and to download digital versions of this article and other Booz Allen Hamilton publications, visit 6

8 Principal Offices Huntsville, Alabama Sierra Vista, Arizona Los Angeles, California San Diego, California San Francisco, California Colorado Springs, Colorado Denver, Colorado District of Columbia Orlando, Florida Pensacola, Florida Sarasota, Florida Tampa, Florida Atlanta, Georgia Honolulu, Hawaii O Fallon, Illinois Indianapolis, Indiana Leavenworth, Kansas Aberdeen, Maryland Annapolis Junction, Maryland Hanover, Maryland Lexington Park, Maryland Linthicum, Maryland Rockville, Maryland Troy, Michigan Kansas City, Missouri Omaha, Nebraska Red Bank, New Jersey New York, New York Rome, New York Dayton, Ohio Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Charleston, South Carolina Houston, Texas San Antonio, Texas Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Alexandria, Virginia Arlington, Virginia Chantilly, Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia Falls Church, Virginia Herndon, Virginia McLean, Virginia Norfolk, Virginia Stafford, Virginia Seattle, Washington The most complete, recent list of offices and their addresses and telephone numbers can be found on Booz Allen Hamilton Inc

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