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Making Social Media Work for You

“I need to start using social media in my practice.”

Is that what you’re telling yourself? It’s a great place to start, but there’s a lot more to social media success than just “being there.” The first question I ask planners to consider is, “Why am I using (or planning to use) social media as part of my marketing strategy?”

If it’s because you want to let the world know your political stance or complain about something, it’s probably not the best use of your time (on or off the clock). But if it’s to build a community, get the word out about your business and show you are an expert in financial planning—then social media can be an extremely valuable tool! It’s all in how you make your plan, execute it and stick with it.

I’ve included a few of my favorite tips below to help you get started.

Social Media Has Its Place…

…But that doesn’t mean it should run your schedule. It’s so easy to get sucked into your Facebook timeline, or deep into the string of replies to a tweet. Responding in a timely manner is important—and now platforms like Facebook track your response rate—but don’t beat yourself up trying to answer every message or comment 15 seconds after it comes through.

An easy solution is to turn on notifications for direct messages, which is where most people go when they are seeking help from you or your business. For comments that come through, set aside a daily time block to monitor your page(s). I recommend 10 minutes; unless you are a social media superstar, that is likely enough time to ensure that you are seeing all of the comments that have been published on each of your posts.

It’s also equally important to have an established process in place to handle complaints, mentions and comments on your social media platforms. Whether it’s the CEO or a part-time intern who is monitoring the account, you want everybody to be on the same page and know when to respond, and how to respond when it’s appropriate.

Create a Lasting Connection

Social media offers a great way to help people understand who you, and your business, really are. If your customers are really buying “you,” what do you want and need them to know ? Use your social media platforms to connect with your audience and have a discussion. Keep asking them questions and producing different types of content—if you pay attention, you’ll start to notice patterns and understand the topics that truly matter to your followers.

Did you post something that got absolutely no engagement? Take a deep breath and remember it’s not the end of the world. Social media is a process of trial and error: test, gather data and adjust your strategy.

Consistency is Critical

Raise your hand if you think consistency is important. If you don’t see your hand reflected in the computer monitor, we need to take this offline. (And if you’re the guy who raised his hand on the subway, don’t worry—you’re definitely not the weirdest one on that train.)

When it comes to social media, consistency is key. It doesn’t matter whether you post every day or once per week—being consistent builds trust with your audience. An easy way to keep track of your content is through a calendar. It doesn’t matter if you use an Excel spreadsheet or a sophisticated project management tool; find what works for you and use it. You can stop at Level 1, or go 100 Levels deep – it all depends on your skill level, interest and the time you can put toward social media. Here’s what Levels 1, 10 and 100 might look like:

Level 1: I want to post on each platform once a week. How do I make it look like I’m active on social media?

Determine the platforms you want to be active on and spread out your content. Use the ideas in Level 10 below for content generation, and set up a simple calendar like this:

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Level 10: I want to post on each platform once per day. But how in the world will I create enough content for that?!

It’s a lot easier than you think! All your content doesn’t have to be original blogs that are thousands of words each. Here’s one example:

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Build fun stuff about you and your company into your social media plan. People want to know about you; they can easily learn about your products and services through your website and by contacting you.

Level 100: Alright, I’ve got all this down. I want to post on multiple social media platforms multiple times a day.

Awesome! Remember how I said you could use an Excel spreadsheet for your content calendar? If you didn’t believe me, now you should! I love Google Docs, and use it for scheduling content across the Financial Planning Association’s social media platforms.

Here’s my outline:

Level 100

It’s color-coded by type of content. Each type of content goes out the same day each week (consistency is key). I sprinkle in Instagram posts throughout the calendar, based on what content I think will work well there (it’s not a huge platform for us, so I don’t put as much attention there).

A content writer I work with swears by Airtable—I’ve used it with her, and it is a neat platform. Ultimately, it boils down to what works best for you and what will keep you organized and on track.

I’ll close with a few of my key things to remember about social media:

  1. A consistent, regular presence is key.
  2. Make sure your profile info is completed and detailed; people often go to social media instead of Google to learn more about you or how to get in touch with you. Just because something is not my favorite platform doesn’t mean I would take my company off it.
  3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Case in point: Instagram not updating anybody’s feeds after the iOS update earlier this year. It took at least a week before I saw any new content in my feed…which means I didn’t see any new content from the businesses I follow.
  4. Create a content calendar—it makes your life easier!
  5. Your social media posts, retweets, likes, favorites (all of it) is reflective of YOU, your beliefs and your business. Be intentional with what you like and what you post.

As a final note, social media is a free* platform to tell your story. Why the asterisk? Because nothing is truly free. Organic content costs you your time, and paid advertising costs you time and money.

The takeaway? Be intentional with every piece of content you create and post.

Now, get out there and hashtag make it a great day!

Mari Shirley Headshot

Mari Shirley has worked in communications and marketing for a decade, mostly in the financial industry. She started her career in public relations at the University of Georgia Athletic Association (Go Dawgs!), and before joining the Financial Planning Association, she was a brand marketer for Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers and SmartVestor programs. At FPA, she focuses on social media strategy and brand and digital marketing.


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It Is All About Perception: Live Beyond Your Own Business Limitations

Years ago a rookie financial adviser (me) new to the area asked a veteran colleague and friend, “What is the wealthiest street in the city of Milwaukee?”

“Well, that’s easy, it’s Lake Shore Drive because that is where all of the money and mansions are, however, I would not prospect them,” he told me. “They all already have an adviser.”

Many weeks later, the veteran stopped me as I rushed by him on the way out the door.

“Where are you going in such a hurry?” the veteran asked.

“I’m going to see my client at his home on Lake Shore Drive,” I replied.

T.S. Eliot said it best when he said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

Risk has many definitions. To my co-worker, it implied taking time to prospect an affluent niche that he believed would most certainly reject him. To me, the rookie, there was no risk in attempting to prospect them, since no attempt at all would absolutely result in failure.

My point today is that the reality of business risk is really about how our perceptions dictate what we believe is possible. The lesson learned should be: don’t limit yourself.

The following is a brief outline of how you can live beyond any business limitations you might have set up for yourself.

Identify Your Business Risk

It was a simple thought, “I’m not going to get rejected by people who don’t have money,” that led me down a path of forming my belief system around who I was going to prospect. In other words, I didn’t care about rejection, I cared about wasting time with unqualified prospects.

Unfortunately, it took some time to realize that although I was closing these new wealthy clients, they were only willing to invest a small portion of their assets with me; thus, my updated business risk was in not being confident enough to put together comprehensive financial plan, but merely pushing a product.

Model the Masters

Once you’ve identified any challenge, it’s important to look for the solutions. In this case, my solution came in the form of a conversation with my then branch manager who simply said, “You’ve got 500 accounts. You don’t need 500 more with the same average asset per account; what you need is a minimum account size. I recommend from this day forward that you never take an account under $100K.”

He was a former top producer turned branch manager and to me he walked on water. So, it didn’t take long before I picked up the phone and cold-called business owners inserting the phrase into my introduction, “I tend to work with business owners who have $100K or more in investable assets.”

Create a New Reality

Change can be a scary thing until you realize that not changing will cause you more risk. Take for instance what happened just 30 minutes after I started using the aforementioned phrase. The 30-plus year veteran business owner that I was speaking to replied, “I know what you mean, I don’t have time for small accounts either.”

And, just like that everything changed for me. I was no longer afraid to position myself as an adviser with a minimum account size. In fact, I embraced and was proud of it.

Become the Mentor

Now, as a business consultant/coach I’ve had the pleasure to help others break though the reality of their own business risk. Take Sandra P. a 30-year veteran client of mine who agreed to set her account minimums at $500K, then at $1 million and later at $3 million. It wasn’t until she gathered $10 million of new assets in one month that she realized how limited her thinking had previously been.

Why Having a System to Breakthrough Your Business Risk Works

The reason why having a system to break through your business risk works is because it helps you be aware of what those risks are, then by modeling your mentors it supports a paradigm shift of what is truly possible.

If you would like a complimentary coaching session with me, please email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley

Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.

 

 

 

 

 


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Giant Cakes and Good Vibes: Takeaways from FPA Annual Conference 2019

FPAselects-253.jpgIt isn’t often that you attend a conference where there’s a giant cake, a great party and fantastic giveaways.

Keith Beverly, CFA, CFP,®, said the one negative thing about FPA Annual Conference was that he didn’t attend years ago.

“Free massages should be mandatory at all conferences,” Beverly said.

But giant cakes and free massages aside, FPA Annual Conference was packed with information that is relevant to your practices. Here is what I found most interesting from the sessions I attended.

Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat?

The New Yorker journalist Sheelah Kolhatkar noted, in a particularly sobering general session, that the rise of artificial intelligence across sectors has generally led to a decline in jobs for humans. While economists have predicted that the elimination of certain jobs due to AI will lead to creation of different jobs, it hasn’t always lived up to that promise. She noted two types of artificial intelligence: replacing and helping. Replacing AI replaces human labor, while helping AI helps humans be more efficient at their jobs.

While AI can likely memorize more things than you, and can make a financial plan, it doesn’t yet have the same emotional intelligence quotient as you do. Though some news reports indicate that is only a few decades off. Kolhatkar talked about Amelia, a robot being tested specifically to replace human workers in white collar jobs. Amelia speaks 20 languages and can handle multiple issues at once.

Let’s hope Amelia doesn’t get her CFP® certification.

The Competition is Stiff for New Talent, But There’s Good News on the Horizon

Kate Healy, managing director of generation next at TD Ameritrade Institutional, notes that there are approximately 100,000 advisers who are expected to retire within the next decade. We have 40 percent fewer advisers today than we had in 2008, and only 25 percent of the American population is getting financial planning, she said.

“There is a really large untapped market that we need to serve,” Healy told FPA Annual Conference attendees. Healy noted we’re only graduating around 200 students a year in CFP Board Registered programs. Clearly, the pipeline of future planners isn’t enough to fill the impending gap in the number of planners.

Maybe we need Amelia to get her CFP® certification after all.

But there is good news, Healy said. For the first time the average age of advisers has dropped below 50—it’s now 49, and more women and black and Latino professionals are entering the profession.

“We’re seeing progress,” Healy said. “We’ve been doing this for a decade and we’re finally starting to get it.”

72350361_169761577543545_4690210948449828864_n.jpgThis year saw the first-ever diversity and inclusion reception, where people came together the night before the conference kicked off to get to know each other. It was also here that FPA Diversity Committee chair Charles Adi, CFP® (pictured right with Catalina Franco-Cicero, CFP®), announced the launch of the newest Knowledge Circle—the African American Knowledge Circle. This group joins the ranks of the PridePlanners and FPA Latino Knowledge Circles.

This reception was a favorite of attendee Dejah Gay, CFP®.

“I was thoroughly impressed with the FPA’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment and appreciative of the opportunity to have open dialogue about the topic with industry peers,” Gay said. “Also, being able to meet and exchange experiences and ideas with so many other attendees the first day really gave me a sense of community throughout the remainder of the conference.”

Beverly said in talking to students, he found there is still an opportunity to expand recruitment efforts.

“We need to attract more students of color to financial planning programs,” Beverly said. “The three [students] I met were from schools where the students of color represented less than 2 percent of students in the program.  We need to start earlier with our recruitment efforts.”

Your Clients Are Super Stressed Out, and It Could Lead to Bigger Problems

They are stressed out and their stress levels might raise their risk of heart attack because when we’re stressed, we do things like excessively drink and overeat. A session by the American Heart Association noted that 70 percent of Americans say their finances are the No. 1 cause of stress.

But it turns out, if your clients are charitable, they actually have lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression and lower stress levels. Maybe you should encourage your clients to better manage their stress and donate more to charities.

But many things cause clients stress—not just money. And these challenges require more training on the art of financial planning. The many sessions that tackled this were most helpful for Kamila McDonnough, CFP®.

“I was excited to see how many of the sessions focus on the soft skills of planning. I enjoyed the sessions on working with clients that enable, married couples and [couples with] low AUM,” McDonnough said. “It reinforces, for advisers and others, that financial planning is much more than the asset allocation and how the FPA provides tools to assists advisers in these areas.”

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Be Grateful, Learn to Love the Learning Process, and Be Prepared

Justice Alan Page, former Minnesota Viking and Pro Football Hall of Famer, was always quick in school and got things relatively easy. So he kind of coasted through, getting good grades but not really enjoying learning.

It wasn’t until his second go at law school (he dropped out the first time) that he began to fully love the learning process.

Instead of seeing your CE requirements as something to check off a to-do list, learn to really absorb the things you’re reading about and being quizzed on. Also, Justice Page said, do what you do as well as you possibly can and prepare well.

“Preparation is how we get things done,” Page said. “Being as prepared as you can will give you the greatest opportunity to achieve the particular goal that you’re working on.”

Beverly said he enjoyed the general session with Page the most.

“He’s a brilliant man with a lifelong commitment to social justice and racial equity,” Beverly said. “It was motivating to hear how he began shaping his legacy at an early age and has been steadfast over many decades. He also has a great sense of humor and offered some memorable quotes.”

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Embrace Challenges

The Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park is 3,000 feet of straight up granite. It has 32 different pitches. It took seven years for Kevin Jorgeson to conquer.

Jorgeson’s story is one of reinvention. The former competitor in bouldering had never done big wall climbing before.

I know—a former boulderer conquering that feat is impressive, but can we just take a moment to recognize that his climbing partner, Tommy Caldwell, still does these big wall climbs after cutting off his finger?! Talk about embracing challenges.

While you can’t ease your client’s stress by telling them to embrace challenges and be grateful you can try to ease your own stress by reframing challenges to be something that you look forward to and remember fondly when they’re over.

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It’s the Year of Generation Next

Something was different about this year’s FPA Annual Conference. The students have always been there, but this year, they were not just about the student-only events. Students were mingling and learning at sessions, sitting down and networking with future employers and FPA staff, and representing their schools well. Not that they hadn’t done that in previous years, but this year, students seemed particularly impressive.

FPA NexGen events were packed with students and NexGen leaders who have an infectious passion for the financial planning profession, sharing tips and knowledge and welcoming new planners and future planners into the fold.

NexGen veteran and 2019 FPA president-elect Martin Seay, Ph.D., CFP®, noted that there are currently more CFP® professionals older than 70 than under 30.

“That means there are a lot of folks that worked really hard to build this profession that will retire at some point,” he said at the FPA NexGen Town Hall. “We need more of you and there are opportunities.”

But learning and being successful isn’t about reinventing the wheel, he noted, rather, “it’s about learning from the folks who came before you.”

And 2019 FPA NexGen president-elect Alexandria Davis announced the fun news that NexGen Gathering will be held in June 2020 in Las Vegas, dates to be determined. She also encouraged students and new planners to get involved in their local chapter and take advantage of their FPA membership, noting that NexGen membership is part of that, not a separate membership.

Franco-Cicero said her top takeaway from conference was, “The importance of passing the torch from the current generation of planners to the new one entering the field. I felt that this year’s conference created a space that allowed for professional friendships to develop and others to continue to be nourished.”

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Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Next Generation Planner. She also edits the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org, or connect with her on LinkedIn