Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Competing with “Robo-Advisors” Means Investing in Technology

January 26, 2017

Financial advisor with client

Those in the Financial Industry are no doubt aware of the so-called “robo-advisor,” algorithm-based portfolio management that removes much of the human interaction from the process.

Should Financial Professionals be concerned? Is this the beginning of the end for the human advisor? Certainly not. While some investors may feel comfortable letting this sort of technology ‘crunch the numbers’ for them, it’s likely that many will feel far more at ease when they know that there is also a human factor guiding them along the way.

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Preparing Your Practice for 2017

December 13, 2016

Business strategy in 2017, 3d render, white background

It’s that time again. Getting ready for the New Year means creating a to-do list of what’s vital, considering new options, and reevaluating things that might not have worked so well in the previous year.

What’s vital? Staying in touch with your clients, cultivating opportunities to work with them, and helping them work toward achieving their goals. (more…)

Navigating the DOL Fiduciary Ruling

November 16, 2016

Advisor discussing retirement plan

If you’re a Financial Professional, or work in any capacity in the Financial Industry, you’re no doubt aware of the recent new Department of Labor rule relating to retirement plan accounts. While there are rumors that the incoming administration may revisit or eliminate the new requirement – that all Financial Professionals helping retirement savers will be held to a fiduciary standard – nobody ever accused Washington D.C. of doing anything in a timely manner. The change is not scheduled for full implementation until 2018, so there is certainly time for the slow churn of politics. For now, though – the industry is preparing for the change.

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Sharing Photos on Social Media

May 17, 2016

Photography has come a long way in a short period of time, thanks to the digital camera that now inhabits nearly every smartphone, tablet computer, or other device. This convenience has offered many new avenues for communication, notably via social media. But not all photos should be shared. Here are some practical tips for regulating photo-sharing on social media.

Always ask first. You always want to give people the expectation that their picture might be taken, whether it’s at a client event, work function, or some other circumstance. It gives people a chance to straighten their hair, apply makeup, or simply let you know that they’d rather not have their photo taken. Some people don’t mind having their photo taken, but would rather it not be shared. Police and officers of the court are often very discrete about being photographed with family and loved ones, so be mindful and respectful of that.

How does this promote my business? If you are taking these photos with the intention of sharing them on your various Social Media presences, be sure to ask yourself how this furthers your business. For example, depending on the client event, dozens or hundreds of photos could be taken. Sharing all of them, or even most of them, will likely flood the feeds of your followers and annoy them. Pick one photo that exemplifies that everyone had a great time at your event.

Spotlight local businesses and charities. It’s possible that you have a few local businesses among your clientele. Make it a regular feature to spotlight them in your social media posts. This demonstrates your involvement in the community and gives these businesses the incentive to send potential clients your way. Just drop them an email and let them know that you’d like to come in and snap a picture with them while buying lunch, shopping, or whatever the business may offer.

In some cases, it may also be appropriate to share your involvement with community events, school fundraisers, and other charity involvement you may have. Know your base, though; religious or political events always have the potential to alienate some potential or existing clients, even in a relatively “harmless” context.

Tagging people in photos. In most circumstances, I’d suggest avoiding this altogether. On Facebook, tagging can have the effect of sharing the photo automatically in the feed of the person you are tagging. It can create an awkward situation for the person being tagged. The better thing to do is to encourage people to tag themselves if they want. If you tag them in the comments section of the photo, as opposed to the photo itself, you can direct their attention to the photo without displaying it to their friends and followers.

Personal photos. Of course, you may be tempted to share your own family photos on a personal Facebook, or on Instagram. If your Broker/Dealer allows this, have at it! But, be mindful that not everyone wants to see you in your swimsuit this summer. Each of the social media outlets have different privacy settings that can allow you to regulate who sees what. If something is for just your family members or close friends, use those settings. Especially with something like Instagram, be mindful of who you allow access to your personal account.

The Elections Are Coming! The Elections Are Coming!

November 16, 2015

Like many Americans, you probably have political and social views, and those you feel strongly about. You also know that, if you work with the public in a profit-making enterprise, there isn’t much benefit in expressing any of the views which may be divisive or partisan. Whether you skew right, left, or center, your political views are likely something that you keep to yourself, regardless of whether most of your clients or customers agree with you or not.

What do you do, then, if your personal or business social media presence has been hijacked by a political conversation? It doesn’t take much to light the fuse, especially as we go into the 2016 Presidential Election cycle, when so many more people are engaged in the political process.

It isn’t enough to simply avoid some topics. Financial professionals, to name one example, deal with topics that so frequently cross over with the world of politics.

Here are three ways to keep the peace on social media.

Lay down the law: You have a right to regulate the conversation in your social media presence and/or let your followers and friends know the “rules” for your feed. Post something that will end the conversation respectfully:

  • “I appreciate the opinions of everyone here, but respectfully ask that political conversations happen elsewhere.”
  • “I know these are issues that many feel passionately about, but I’d like my page to stay neutral when it comes to politics.”
  • “I feel like this thread has gotten a bit off topic. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and opinions, but I’d rather steer clear of politics on my feed. I hope everyone understands.”

A private word: You will probably want to delete any comments of a political nature from your feed (possible on some platforms, but not others). A quick direct message explaining your actions and why you’ve taken them will soften the blow, especially if they are a current or potential client. If they are someone you work with closely, a telephone call might also be appropriate.

The banhammer: If a word to the wise proves insufficient, or if there are repeated incidents, the various social media platforms offer you options to ban or block certain users from posting or commenting.

Considering that we are still a year away from Election Day 2016, I hope that you won’t have to use these methods too often! Our political system is one of the things that makes our country great, but, like fireworks on the Fourth of July, you want to be careful where you set it off!

LinkedIn Becomes A Go-To Recruitment Tool

September 21, 2015

Stephen Colbert used to make occasional jokes about ignoring LinkedIn requests. And it’s true, for a long time, people’s understanding of LinkedIn was rudimentary. But I am hearing more and more real evidence of LinkedIn becoming a go-to tool for major companies in search of talent.

LinkedIn is well-known as the preeminent social media experience for professionals. Not only will it allow you to create and build professional contacts, but it is becoming the new frontier in job recruitment. If you’re looking for reasons why government jobs numbers have been so great lately, there are two helpful developments you can point to: people are getting better at looking for jobs and jobs are getting better at looking for the right people.

You see, unlike other social media, your LinkedIn account serves as both a digital business card as well as a full resume. While individuals can make contacts in their area or from friend-of-a-friend connections like other social media platforms, many large corporations are spending thousands of dollars per quarter on recruitment tools to seek out and make contact with ideal candidates.

Why is this catching on? If you’ve ever hired someone, you know what it’s like to post job listings in the paper or online (you can do it on LinkedIn, as well). If twenty people reply, you’re lucky if one is even a real candidate. Historically, that problem has been compounded for larger companies. Another big problem, regardless of the size of the company, is that the best people for the job aren’t looking for you; the best people are already working.

LinkedIn recruitment tools act as an inexpensive alternative to the headhunters and staffing companies of old. With them, a company is able to search all of LinkedIn (not just a small social network) for suitable candidates. That includes people who are already employed, but might be tempted with the right offer.

What does this mean for you? You want a LinkedIn profile, you want to keep it updated, and you want to keep an eye on it. This goes if you are a green kid, fresh out of college, or an old hand with decades of experience; if the job fits you, you’re going to want to be in the shuffle.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t remind you that you can make a great impression on LinkedIn if, in addition to keeping your personal information updated, you are sharing interesting articles, blog posts, and news items. It shows that you are engaged in the world around you and full of ideas. Marketing.Pro offers robust social media content which can be used on LinkedIn.  It can be the difference between blending into the wallpaper and standing out in a crowded room.

Are you using social media wisely?

August 17, 2015

The question isn’t “Are you using social media?” You’re on top of that, or you’re about to start. The question is “Are you using social media wisely?”

Social Media may be the most human tool ever devised. We’re social by our nature; we always want to be talking, meeting, sharing, and we always seek out community. Unlike a TV Commercial or an ad in the paper, you have the opportunity to get to know your intended audience before posting. Knowing their passions, their concerns, and their everyday lives will inform you about what to share.

As I see it, your job is to start a conversation and keep it going. This doesn’t mean responding to every post. Don’t just talk. Listen. Monitor. Pay attention. If someone posts about a new child or a grandchild, this gives you the information that this person may be thinking about starting a savings plan for college. If someone reaches a particular milestone birthday, that may be an indication that it’s time to have a conversation about their retirement savings, or maybe even legacy planning.

Here are some tips for using each of the three main Social Media Platforms:

• Twitter: 140 characters may seem like too little to communicate, but use that space wisely; link to relevant or interesting articles. If you keep a blog, link to that. Your followers will decide what they want to read, based on their own lives and interests.

• Facebook: More intimate than Twitter, Facebook is less like the town square and more like being invited into someone’s living room. If you are fortunate enough to be “friended,” be sure to balance information with some personal stuff. Nothing too personal. But pictures from a recent family vacation or outing allows contacts to see you as a neighbor.

• LinkedIn: The late night guys love joking about ignoring LinkedIn requests, but it’s your way of communicating with other professionals. People who are not necessarily in your field are there, so be sure to put your best foot forward and take part.

Keep in mind: These are just the big three today. Keep an eye on sites like Tumblr, Instagram, and others that are still developing a following. If you see a way to reach out on these sites, and your Broker/Dealers say yes, take the plunge! The main rule is staying firmly on the line between being professional, yet interesting.

Part of your presence in any social network should include interesting and topical articles and news items; if you are a doing things on your own, or have an assistant with other pressing duties, finding interesting items can feel like a full-time job. This is doubled when you factor that many people working in financial fields must have all items, even social media posts, approved by compliance departments.

While brevity is the soul of wit, you needn’t leave any tricks in your bag. Anyone who has spent any time on social media knows the power of images. Think in terms of how you can convey a message in ways that are visually interesting. Information Graphics or Infographics are image files that illustrate a complicated idea, such as significant financial changes, pie charts, and graphs. They can also be used to share pertinent quotes from recent news stories, or words of advice from experts.

Password Managers

July 20, 2015

In working on Marketing.Pro’s newest LinkedIn campaign feature, we’ve discovered that more than 60% of the subscribers in the group didn’t have their own login information. It’s a common problem, and not surprising when you consider that the best security practice is to have complicated passwords for each and every website or application. In June of this year, PC Magazine noted “The only way to keep your secure website logins safe is to use a strong password for each and never use the same one twice. And the only way to manage that task is to use a password manager.”1

Now, it’s true that you could keep track of them on paper, but there’s no getting around how insecure that is… not to mention inconvenient, if you happen to lose the paper. Having the same password for everything is a bad idea; if a hacker figures out one, he’s figured out all of them.

Password managers are secure and take all of the thinking and memory out of maintaining all of your passwords. Many can fill forms and even generate passwords for you, for extra security. They have the potential to save you and your staff hours of frustration, and keep your business’ vital information out of harm’s way.

In doing some research for this piece, I came across two great articles on password managers, outlining different brands and their benefits, differences, and prices. The first one I want to share is the article that produced that great quote above, from Neil J. Rubenking at PC Magazine.

The other piece comes from Alan Henry at Life Hacker, providing the 5 best password managers, as chosen by Life Hacker readers earlier this year.

The three brands mentioned in both articles are Dashlane, LastPass, and RoboForm, but take the time to inform your own decision; passwords are a reality of doing business using modern technology, so staying state-of-art with your security is one of the most serious decisions you can make!

Bottom line … Make the commitment now to keep your passwords in a safe, centralized location, and ALWAYS have access to them at a moment’s notice. This could save both you and your staff hours of frustration and wasted time in the future.

1 – http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407168,00.asp [6/2/15]

Can Your Personal Facebook Account Be Effective for Business?

June 15, 2015

The short answer is a resounding “Yes.” People have used their personal, non-professional social media accounts to leverage a business advantage for years, even in the relatively stone-age days of Friendster and MySpace. So, if your Broker/Dealer is one of the many that have forbidden the use of Facebook for professional purposes, there may be circumstances under which you can still make your social media time productive without breaking the rules.

If you go this route, do your homework! Ask for your Broker/Dealer’s guidelines for Social Media Privacy and make sure you toe the line. For example, you’re probably going to be asked to keep a great deal of your professional information off of your personal profile. That may mean you can’t share the name of your company or Broker/Dealer, nor your profession or your contact information.

Thankfully, Facebook is designed more for personal communication rather than the professional, anyway. In other words, it’s less about “work” and more about “life.” You can share about your family, friends, travels, and other personal interests.

Obviously, you should use your discretion; common sense, regardless of your profession. This means avoiding religious or political matters, unless you are targeting that market. Inappropriate jokes are a big “No.” And don’t overwhelm people with your posting; if you’re averaging more than 3 posts in a 24 hour period, you might want to save something for the next time.

Most of all, keep it A.P.E. – Actionable, Pertinent, and Educational. This is simply good communication, but especially vital on social media; if you’re going to be boring, irrelevant, and pointless, why bother?

When you “friend” clients and prospects, keep in mind that you are using it to nurture relationships, more than develop business. Facebook is as much about “listening” as it is “broadcasting.” These people will be sharing about changes in their lives, both good and bad. This is valuable information and will assist you in cultivating relationships and nurturing prospects.

Social media is the most vital medium so far in the 21st Century. It touches every part of our lives in the way that only a new and vital technology can. We spend so much of our time there!  Make that time productive by discovering prospects and turning good clients into great clients.

The Art of the “Kaffeeklatsch”

April 20, 2015

In the original German, “kaffeeklatsch” means “to gossip over coffee.” In the American context, it can mean any informal social gathering where there is both coffee and conversation. It’s also a helpful tool for any professional looking to expand their contacts.

Here are some tips for making the kaffeeklatsch a success…

  • Choose a local business as opposed to a well-known chain.
  • Post your gathering on Meetup.com. Make a point of joining other gatherings as well.
  • Don’t worry if you’re in a smaller area: A small classified ad still works, as do community bulletin boards, which can be found in community centers, libraries, grocery stores, and places of worship.
  • If “kaffeeklatsch” sounds too frightening, you don’t have to use the word… “Coffee Club” works just fine. “Dessert Club” sounds even better, if your budget extends to a few slices of pie.
  • While you can pick up the tab, there isn’t necessarily an obligation to do so; traditionally, the kaffeeklatsch is Dutch treat. Use your best judgment there.

Getting to know the people in your area is among the best of best practices; the insights you gain may serve you for years, all for the price of a cup of coffee.