Two-thirds of advisors reduced their prospecting for new clients in the early months of the pandemic and 51% reported below average results from their prospecting as they adjusted to a fully-remote environment, according to a survey from Fidelity Investments.
However, advisors leveraging a multichannel approach, using email, phone and video, reported the most prospecting success, with 74% reporting average or above average results. Out of the advisors using only email as their prospecting channel, three-quarters of them reported below average results, according to Fidelity’s recent COVID-19 Financial Advisor Community survey.
“Most people are inundated with emails and they don’t respond to emails and Twitter,” said Robert Wermuth, senior partner at Legacy Planning. The West Chester, Pa.-based RIA has $1 billion in assets under management.
“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 written statement. “Increased demand for financial planning and advice has led many firms to rapidly pivot how they engage with prospects and clients in a virtual environment. The crisis has been a catalyst for growth-oriented advisors to embrace more digitally-minded business development strategies.”
Although 90% of the financial advisors surveyed said they are leveraging at least one digital marketing tactic, many said they lacked the skills and resources to marketing their firm effectively.
“We are embracing more digitally minded strategies,” said Wermuth. He agreed that his firm’s lack of skills was hurting marketing, but the team decided to take a proactive approach to the problem.
“Over the last 90 days everyone on the team did a lot of research, two hours a week. We were identifying firms and technologies that can help us take a multipronged approach,” he said. “It’s evolving quickly. What we use currently and what we’re going to use in the next six months is going to change dramatically.
The survey found advisors under the age of 35 using more digital prospecting tools, such as video, social media and email. Among the advisors, some used just one tool, while some used a combination.
“Our goal is different than most. We want to increase our presence, not get people with half-a-million-dollar IRA accounts to call us,” said Wermuth. The firm plans to use a multipronged approach. Currently Legacy’s digital strategy uses email, LinkedIn and the firm’s database of prospects.
Despite this, the phone continues to be the most used channel to connect with prospects. However, half the advisors under 35, and 40% of advisors aged 36 to 54 are using video for prospecting during the pandemic. And 41% of advisors under 35 use social media.
Wermuth said heuses video calls, video conferencing and still relies on the phone. “People have a better experience, better communication with me and we talk much more frequently,” he said. “That connectivity or phone call has a greater impact and it compounds my returns.”
The survey found that many advisors liked working from home and made them less likely to reduce their prospecting. However, the advisors that preferred to be in an office didn’t do as well.
Wermuth said working from home made him more effective for his clients.
RIAs said they anticipate doubling the use of video conferencing with clients, with 14% of client interactions occurring via video versus 7% pre-pandemic, said the survey. Currently, one-fifth of RIAs reported using video for client meetings.
“I think the Fidelity statistic is a case of you can’t teach old dogs new tricks,” said Wermuth. “We had 2% of meetings online before COVID, and now we do 98% on Zoom. I see my clients more and they love it.”