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New LIMRA (Windsor, Conn.) research has found that six in 10 financial services companies have instituted programs to assist their financial advisors and representatives with social media. The insurance and financial services trade association polled executives from 36 companies, including some of North America’s largest life and annuities companies.
“We already know that almost all financial services companies are using social media,” comments Norah Denley, senior research analyst, Distribution and Technology Research, LIMRA, and the report’s author. “That’s been the case for some time. But this study reveals the extent to which companies are helping their advisors and representatives capitalize on their social media presence and engage in best practices.”
Denley associates companies’ embrace of social media with their efforts to become more customer-centric but implies that there is an important compliance dimension to social media. Companies approaches to helping their advisors vary widely across a spectrum of approaches that includes providing examples of how to use social median channels, guidelines for using social media, custom content for advisors to use, and training in the use of social media, according to the LIMRA study.
Within the LIMRA report, Denley identifies three factors critical to social media success:
- Executive buy-in,
- Internal training, and
“First, executives need to support the financial and staffing resources needed to be effective,” Denley advises. “Compliance and sales teams should be users of social media in addition to knowing how it works. Finally, home office staff must be made aware of their company’s social media programs to better understand their potential.”
The most common challenges that companies face in their social media outreach to advisors are a shortage of content and slow review processes of the content, according to the LIMRA study.
“In some cases, the content that is created can pass through a lot of hands, meaning the process is resource intensive and the content is less timely,” Denley explains. “Unfortunately, that’s the current reality of communicating via a lightning-fast medium in a highly-regulated industry.”
As financial services companies accumulate experience with social media programs for advisors, they are gaining a clearer understanding of its potential, according to Denley. “Companies and financial professionals successful with social media know it is not a magic bullet,” said Denley. “They realize it’s a powerful tool to establish and nurture relationships, part of their broader marketing efforts, and that over time it can help contribute to success.”
Among the companies that participated in the survey are Prudential Financial, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, Guardian Life, Principal Financial Group, Allstate Financial, Nationwide, Thrivent Sun Life Financial, Pacific Life, Securian, Allianz Life of North America and Unum.