Canadian advisers see gains, pitfalls in social media

Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:05pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian financial adviser Will Britton is the quintessential success story of social media in the industry. He's active on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and when someone needs a financial planner, Britton's contacts are quick to send a "here's my guy" link. Presto, a new client.

"I'm probably doing it wrong according to what social media experts may say," said Britton, a certified financial planner in Kingston, Ontario, and member of Advocis, the Financial Advisors Association of Canada.

Britton, 38, spends 30 to 60 minutes a day on social media, and it has helped him build a broad network of people who refer clients, become clients, and share knowledge.

"I don't have separate accounts for personal and business, they are one and the same. What I've found is I'm my personal brand anyway as a financial planner, so instead of shunning that and separating the two, I've embraced it."

In fact, that's exactly the strategy that Geoff Evans, founder of the London, Ontario-based Social Media Coach, believes works best.

While many financial advisers think social media is key to marketing their services and products, the amount of red tape involved in regulatory compliance makes it most valuable as a tool for networking, referrals and gathering information, not promotion or sales, Evans said.

"For an adviser, their first sale is not the product, the first sale is getting people to buy into them - believing that they have integrity and they are credible and trustworthy," said Evans, who was a financial adviser before starting his social media business three years ago.

"That is what social media can do. It can help build that foundation of a relationship."   Continued...