Financial advisors embrace virtual prospecting during pandemic

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As social distancing measures to curb the pandemic’s spread and, ideally, head off a second wave still largely in place, technology has become a vital tool for wealth firms to conduct business. That includes prospecting and marketing activities – which some were more successful at than others.

In a new survey of advisors conducted by Fidelity Investments, two thirds said they reduced their prospecting activity in the first few months of the pandemic. However, roughly half (51%) said that the prospecting they’ve done since adjusting to a fully remote environment has yielded below-average results.

The secret to success, it appears, is to use a multi-pronged marketing approach. Among advisors who prospected for clients via email, phone, and video, 74% reported average or above-average results. On the other hand, three quarters of those who relied on email alone reported below-average results.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, advisors have been stepping up to help clients navigate the complex emotional and financial impacts of the crisis while continuing to manage their own businesses,” David Canter, head of the registered investment advisor (RIA) and family office segments for Fidelity Institutional, said in a statement. “The crisis has been a catalyst for growth-oriented advisors to embrace more digitally-minded business development strategies.”

The multi-channel approach combining video, social media, and email appeared to be most prevalent among young advisors under the age of 35; 41% of such advisors said they were using social media. Phone use was the most common avenue for connecting with prospects, though video appears to be making strong inroads, with half of advisors under 35 years old and 40% of those aged 36 to 54 reported using it for prospecting.

The degree to which advisors have calibrated their prospecting activity also appeared to be linked to how comfortable they were working from home. In particular, advisors who enjoy working remotely were less likely to have dialled back on looking for prospective clients than those who prefer to be in the office.

And while Fidelity’s research has revealed around 90% of advisors surveyed are utilizing at least one digital marketing tactic, many said they’re held back from effectively marketing their firm by a lack of skills and resources.

In acknowledgement of technological efficiencies and evolving demographics, advisors are also increasingly expecting to make electronic communication a mainstay tool. RIAs surveyed by Fidelity anticipate a doubling in the use of video conferencing with clients, with 14% of client interactions reportedly being conducted through video in contrast to 7% prior to the pandemic. At present, a reported one fifth of RIAs said they use video for client meetings.

“It’s encouraging to see advisors embrace more digital tools, but it’s clear that there is still opportunity for them to do more and scale their reach by incorporating more digital marketing tactics in addition to optimizing how they use social media and email,” Canter said.

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