This week the Social2B team attended the Business Development Institute’s Wealth Management & Social Media Leadership Forum, where prevalent topics concerning the industry were discussed. Speakers covered the benefits, risks, and concerns of social media to financial services but the topic that stood out most to us was the issue of the use of social media in relation to the regulations/compliance apprehensions within the industry. We were happy, however, to see that representatives present from the wealth management firms generally agreed with our opinion that social media is not as scary as it may seem, and can in fact be implemented without too much fuss.


Social Media Marketing = Marketing

Social media is simply another form of marketing, plain and simple! No one gets into trouble in social media with anything they would not get into trouble with in any other form of marketing or external/internal form of communication. Seems pretty obvious, yes? But yet somehow there is so much paranoia surrounding social media and what people are sharing or saying. Yes, there are social media slipups and security breaches/crises (i.e. Burger King, Applebee’s, etc.), which we know isn’t exactly what the world of financial services wishes to hear, but most of these companies actually increased their stock/business afterwards (“Any press is good press”). Also, similar to any other form of marketing, as long as your company can have an open conversation with its different branches (including HR), and sets up a clear set of guidelines, there should be no reason why social media should not be implemented into the infrastructure. Even the FINRA is trying to better understand how to use social media effectively. If the ones regulating are ready for the push forwards, then there is no reason why your wealth management firm should not be as well.


The Pilot Program

There were a few discussions in the forum about implementing “pilot programs” as a sort of security blanket for wealth management firms to test the waters of social media’s scary seas. Sheryl Larson from Northern Trust discussed how their company has done just this, with a 4-phased approach to this type of marketing that includes discovery, planning, development, and implementation. Through these steps and many internal conversations with different departments at team meetings, they were ultimately able to implement a social media program across the board for HR talent acquisition, PR, asset management, corporate, wealth management, and Northern Trust Open. They also discovered through this process that through Twitter, they could best implement social media marketing by using different Twitter handles for each of their different efforts in order to target niche audiences and have a more tailored content marketing experience for their followers. Therefore, by taking social media slowly, step by step, test by test, they were able to discover some key details that ultimately improved their social media implementation experience. An important takeaway from this is that your wealth management firm should not be afraid of experimentation with social media. As long as you can keep open conversations flowing within different departments, and have the ability to introduce social media step by step in a somewhat controlled setting, you can ultimately use it to your benefit.


Quality Not Quantity

From a social media marketing perspective, one of the topics that raised an eyebrow for our team was the discussion of connections and social media. Oftentimes in the social media industry we are judged on the number of fans or followers we have. One look at a profile with less than x amount of followers, and a “professional” is deemed irrelevant. However, there was wide acceptance among the attendees that it’s the relevance of your connections that matter, not the quantity (even those with over 100k followers agreed)! According to Glen Gilmore, developing real relationships is the way to maximize social media’s potential. As pointed out by Joanna Belbey, you can also capitalize on these relationships through social media networks (i.e. Facebook) by monitoring life milestones and making recommendations for financial products accordingly. While this all seems rather logical and intuitive, it seemed worth addressing, as it’s important to surround yourself with those who will add value to the conversation, not just to follow and be followed for the sake of numbers. “Don’t build like, build trust” (Augie Ray). What’s important is knowing how to join the conversation while reaching the right people, ensuring they are in the right mindset, getting the right message in front of them, and establishing a voice that they can connect with (Dylan Pass).


Ultimate Takeaway

Ultimately, leaving the Wealth Management & Social Media Leadership Forum, each individual (whether from the wealth management or social media industry) should have been able to leave with the confidence that social media has a place in the financial services industry, and that place is only becoming increasingly secure. Regulators are actually open to conducting new ways of business; therefore the wealth management industry can be more open-minded!


To follow the tweet thread from the #bdi1 event you can go to



By Jess Spar