BOSTON, September 16, 2015 — In the largest known body of research on financial advisor use of social media, the Putnam Investments 2015 Social Advisor Study points to social media as having become an increasingly essential client communication and business-building component for financial advisors across the industry. Research findings released today by Putnam from the firm’s third annual study of over 800 financial advisors nationwide show 81% of advisors currently use social media for business, up from 75% last year.
Advisors of all ages are more frequently using social media networks in their professional practice, with 40% of advisors (versus 25% last year) now using four or more networks for business and a growing number (69%) pointing to social media having a significant role in their marketing efforts — up steeply from the prior year (56%).
The increasing utilization of social media by advisors is translating into concrete business results: The share of advisors acquiring new clients through social media is up sharply to 79% (from 66% in 2014), with the average annual asset gain from these clients standing at $4.6 million.
Putnam Investments President and CEO Robert L. Reynolds, who was one of the first senior executives in Financial Services to actively engage on social media, commented, “We are seeing a clear, powerful trend emerging where social media is becoming an almost indispensable communications tool for financial advisors in their day-to-day interaction with their clients, investment providers and the broader marketplace. This is a dynamic that is likely to endure, providing tremendous opportunity for advisors to establish and build relationships.”
The study yielded other notable findings, including:
- The median increase in assets gained through social media activity is $1.9 million, up from $1.2 million in 2014
- Advisors look toward certain social platforms to help perform different business-building functions: LinkedIn to improve their referral network and connect with other financial professionals; Facebook to enhance client relationships and build professional brand; and Twitter to expand professional knowledge and help establish a thought leadership platform
- While LinkedIn continues to be the dominant network for business use by advisors, business usage of other networks is growing more rapidly
- Advisors are increasingly getting their business news and information from social sites — equating the sites’ credibility with traditional news sources
“Social media use by financial advisors today is broader, deeper and more results-driven than ever,” said Mark McKenna, Head of Global Marketing, Putnam Investment. “We are seeing advisors across the industry — including those affiliated with major wirehouses, independent firms and RIA shops — recognize the present and future potential of social media engagement with clients, prospects and other crucial constituents. This is a medium that is evolving rapidly for advisors and offers tremendous promise for the years to come.”
Profile of a “Social Advisor”
The Putnam Investments research indicates that the typical financial advisor — who has gained assets through social media — has the following characteristics:
- 44-year-old wirehouse advisor living in southern or western U.S.
- Active on five social networks
- Has 10 years of experience
- Runs a book of business of $80 million (median)
Putnam Investments and Social Media
In recent years, Putnam Investments has expanded outreach to clients, advisors, consultants and other stakeholders with social media by building out a robust presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. The firm has been widely recognized for developing and adopting best practices in social media. In 2014, Putnam Investments was ranked the #1 social media leader in the asset management industry by kasina, based on Putnam’s work across social media platforms.
In identifying a need among financial advisors to understand the emerging importance of social media as a business-building tool, Putnam Investments has developed key practice management offerings in this area including: providing best practice seminars to advisors on use of LinkedIn and other social platforms; a series of online resources and tools; one-on-one training and continuing discussions; creation of a community discussion via the firm’s LinkedIn group; and video vignettes on Putnam’s Advisor Tech Tips blog (http://www.advisortechtips.com/).
In 2014, Putnam Investments President and CEO Robert L. Reynolds was named a LinkedIn Influencer, joining a select group of CEOs, political figures, entrepreneurs and other influential business executives who provide compelling commentary and professional insights on a variety of subjects. Currently, Reynolds has over 9,000 followers on Twitter (https://twitter.com/RobertLReynolds). Reynolds was also one of the first CEOs in the financial industry to actively tweet — beginning in July 2009. In addition, he currently has over 100,000 LinkedIn followers.
About the Survey
The research was conducted online by Brightwork Partners LLC among 817 financial advisors nationally who have been advising retail clients for at least two years. The study was conducted in July 2015.
About Brightwork Partners LLC
Brightwork Partners is a specialty research and consulting firm focusing on distribution strategies for retail asset managers and providers of defined contribution services. Founded in 1999, the firm conducts custom and multi-client research among advisors, consultants, plan sponsors, third party administrators and participants on behalf of major providers in the industry.