Financial Professionals Lack Online Skills

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There are some seemingly contradictory surveys about the use of the Internet and social media among financial professionals. One recent survey found that a great many financial pros lack online marketing skills and aren't taking advantage of social media and other online opportunities to connect with prospects.

But another survey conducted by On Wall Street seemed to say it's a matter of age … "Whether it's LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, 85% of financial services professionals under the age of 50 are using social media,” according to the survey. Most of them preferring LinkedIn for business and Facebook for personal matters.

Still, most firms are grappling with this paradox: On one hand, the safe way to deal with potential regulatory problems is to pretty much ban online activity by individuals in the firm. On the other hand, millions turn to the Internet every day for financial and investment information.

That's where the vast majority of potential clients are today – at least those under 70. (I say 70 because one of the fastest growing demographics on Facebook and other online venues are baby boomers. So count them in.) So what should a financial firm do?

Vanguard Group, the Pennsylvania-based investment manager, now permits employees to use Facebook and LinkedIn as long as specific investment recommendations aren't given. Hewins Financial Advisors LLC, which manages $ 2.3 billion in assets, is helping all its advisers set up professional profiles on LinkedIn, as well creating blogs.

There are many ways to convey authority and trust without making specific investment recommendations. For instance, an online article about the natural gas market does not have to recommend specific stocks. It can talk about the growing need for natural gas in developing countries or contrast the market in the US where sources are plentiful versus Europe, where a great deal of natural is imported from Russia.

In this way, the writer conveys authority on the subject without giving any advice. And authority and trust wins clients online.

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