APEX InsightsInsurance > How your clients are rating you online

Millennials expect (advice) businesses to be online, and for reviews of them to be readily available.

July 2019

How your clients are rating you online

You and your business are being judged online. And it’s critical you are shaping this, reports Zoe Fielding.

For financial advisers, consumer adoption of digital and social media has been both a blessing and a blight in recent years.

Encouraging immediate dissemination of news and opinion, such negative matters as those raised by the banking royal commission, are metastasized through such channels and take on a life of their own.

At the same time, increasing engagement with social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn gives advisers opportunity to foster relationships with existing clients, attract new business, and boost the sector’s reputation.

In days gone by, when someone needed a service recommendation, their first instinct would have been to ask friends and family. Now, many people’s first thought is to look online.

Some 85 per cent of Australian consumers search online for suppliers of products and services, and almost nine out of 10 use social media, according to the 2018 Yellow Digital Report, produced by Sensis.

Unsurprisingly, social media use is most prevalent among younger generations. Almost all under-40s surveyed used social media, compared with two thirds of people aged over 65.

Local advisers lag in social media use

Wealth Enhancers, an advice business that targets well-educated career women in their late 20s and early 30s, has had success building business via social media.

Instagram has become a key source of inbound leads, says financial coach Rebecca Pritchard. The business is active across all major social media platforms, building its brand and seeking to demonstrate value to current and potential clients.

The business has recruited a social media manager and works with consultants in the area. “It can be quite stark the difference between a well-managed social media account and a poorly managed one … If it’s done well, the payback period can be relatively brief,” says Pritchard.

Many advisers acknowledge the need for a social media presence, but only 16 per cent of Australian advice practices believe they have nailed it, a recent survey by the Beddoes Institute found.

Two thirds of practices either wish to improve an existing social media strategy, or develop one in the near future, the study showed. Just over 15 per cent have no social media strategy and no plans to get one.

Advisers in the US have adopted social media more quickly. Almost nine out of 10 American advisers surveyed by Putnam in 2018 said social media was very or somewhat significant to their current marketing efforts.

In Britain, regulatory changes have made it difficult for financial advisers to serve younger, less wealthy clients – namely, the country’s 4.4 million Millennials. But advice businesses are beginning to target this group, connecting online with limited and robo-advice offerings. Some plan to extend their services to personalised advice, while retaining online connections.

Millennials’ digital demands

Millennials want more online interaction with advisers than older generations do, according to Accenture found in its Millennials and Money report.

A majority of Millennials want:

  • to contact advisers directly through mobile platforms
  • access self-directed investment portals with adviser support
  • to use robo-advice for basic services
  • online tools to help them understand investing and engage with their portfolios
  • to be able to track financial data in real-time
  • social media to play a role in their adviser’s service
  • while only 30 per cent of Generation X and Baby Boomers shared these desires.

In addition, Millennials expect businesses to be online, and for reviews of them to be readily available, Pritchard says, a Millennial herself, and winner of the 2018 ANZ AFA Rising Star of the Year Award.

“When I’m trying to find a business I quite often search Instagram now before I search Google. When the business isn’t there, it’s frustrating and [I think], ‘Where are you? Are you a real business?’.”

Adviser rating services are in their infancy, but growing

Advisers can be rated across a variety of online platforms. In addition to social media networks and general sites that facilitate customers reviews, such as Google, specialist ratings sites have emerged.

Adviser Ratings assigns advisers a percentage score based on client ratings of their communication skills, knowledge and expertise, and customer service, as well as how likely the client would be to recommend them to their family and friends.

A second rating is generated using information from licensees, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, industry bodies, and customer reviews.

The Beddoes Institute in 2014 launched Most Trusted Adviser Network, an invitation-only ratings service that includes 120 advisers and claims to set a high bar for entry based on client rankings.

Pritchard says specific ratings sites have not yet infiltrated the consumer market enough to be significant, but advisers should still take note.

“Advisers do need to get on the front foot with those platforms … You can’t be picky and say ‘You must find me on this channel’. You need to be across all the channels,” she says.

If businesses aren’t comfortable approaching the task, there are numerous consulting firms, online courses, and specialists that can help.

Pritchard believes concerns about compliance issues when using social media are unfounded if advisers are sharing valuable content with honesty and integrity.

The real risk, she says, is failing to engage with clients online: “If you’re not doing this and your competitors are, what’s happening to you? There is a genuine risk of falling behind.”


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