Countdown to Panacea Adviser’s new Social Media Services

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Where would your business be today without a website, email or mobile phone?  Social media is growing in the same way as these communication methods did, not everyone gets why they need it, but eventually everyone will.  The sooner you adapt the sooner you’ll start to see the results.

The Panacea Social Stream is a subscription-based service launching on Wednesday 10th April 2013.

A service that provides your firm with compliance-approved content, active social media knowledge and strategy,

A service designed to trigger a response from clients, increase website visits and generate more selling opportunities.

Why use the Panacea Social Stream?

Financial advisers that create content for social media successfully have created better client relationships and more sales opportunities.

Social media is generally not embarked upon for the following reasons:

  • It’s too complicated – I don’t understand social media
  • I don’t know where to start
  • I have Compliance constraints
  • I don’t have the time
  • I don’t know what to write
  • I don’t have anyone to help me with this

The Panacea Social stream can overcome all of these excuses through training, education, strategy and content to enable YOU to actively engage with clients and potential clients with a regular communication stream, consistent updates and relevant news.

If you want to know more about the Panacea Social Stream as soon as it has launched, please complete your details by going to www.panaceaadviser.com/socialstream

 

Generation Game

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In the world of social media, there is nothing more compelling than a client endorsing your brand.

Social media ‘endorsers’ are seen to give all their friends, families and colleagues trusted advice that is far more credible than any source of advertising.

In addition to promoting your business or brand, they can defend it too against any negative messaging in the countless small interactions that determine a brand’s health and eventually it’s wealth

A ‘Brucie Bonus’ is that they can also come up with some great ideas for product and service improvements, like our community members often do for us, and importantly they do it all for free as they value what you do for them.

It’s no wonder, then, that just about every forward thinking business is looking for those oh-so valuable assets- the endorsers.

Of course at the forefront of this drive for brand enhancement and enrichment are the big corporates, all designing and constructing very focused social media programs to find, activate and maintain that vital business asset, the client.

And understandably, their efforts are focused on making evangelists out of their customers, widely and expertly considered to be the most authentic and valuable brand spokespeople that only good service and positive experience can buy.

Businesses will seek to cultivate opportunity in the news media, education and other fields. But while the very big brand ‘beasts’ spend fortunes, is this really necessary or indeed possible for small businesses.

For smaller businesses, and given the impact of the brave new RDR world upon financial adviser businesses, the need to create, project and grow your brand has never been more important.

This need not cost much at all as what is often needed for smaller business brand awareness creation, especially for those businesses dealing in intellectual, intangible and sometimes considered dull service deliveries, is a spark, an idea and a low cost way of shouting about it. That is the beauty of social media today as that is exactly what it can do with a little planning and importantly at low cost.

So, engaging with your clients via what is seen to be an important medium for them today, will frequently be via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

If you look back to the heyday of direct sales in financial services, getting a new client was often achieved by way of a referral from a golf club, school, church or similar social grouping opportunity and then asking that new client to refer more friends, family and colleagues.

Social media today is simply the new, prospecting “Generation Game, but a quicker more efficient way of doing the exactly the same thing, brought up to date in fact via your website, mobile devices and social media.

While we should be aware that it is not without some challenges, widespread client and even employee endorsers are the surest, cheapest way to scale up your businesses social media reach and as a result your business.

The late Steve Jobs said, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them”.

Your clients and prospective clients can, if you can embrace them via community communication technology, do wonderful things for you and your business.

The more your ‘brand’ is looked at by way of your website, or searched for on the Internet, the higher your brand will climb on the search engine rankings.

The result being that if your business brand search results appear within your geographical location on page one or two, you are more likely to get that telephone call or e mail than your lesser ranked, un-social media engaged competitor.

Within your business remember that each employee can be the first link in a long chain of intimate, person-to-person experience shares. By increasing the number of starting points for ‘social sharing’, your business greatly improves its chances of achieving marketing success.

Although many advertisers have sought the support of highly connected “influencers” to initiate even viral marketing campaigns, research indicates that the most likely path to virality is a “big seed” strategy. In this approach, viral ideas are seeded by a large selection of first-generation endorsers and sharers, instead of a relatively small handful of highly- connected people.

Therefore although this is demonstrably successful on a large scale, it can also be successful in a scaled down way within your own smaller adviser business universe

To see how easy it is for your business to start on the brand building, business-growing journey, look no further.

Communication… communication… communication

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This is a first in a series of articles from Inboxx on the basic principles of email marketing. We hope it will help IFAs to understand how they can make the most of email marketing techniques to improve and develop customer relationships. Bento is created and sent via the Inboxx platform.

It’s a mantra worth repeating over and over again. Good communications are the lifeblood of any relationship. Whether we deal with customers one-on-one or we speak to millions at a time, it’s a lesson we all need to learn (and relearn). If your relationships with your customers are good, you will do more business. It’s a fact.

Fortunately, in today’s online world, there are some simple and affordable ways you can keep in touch with your customers. All of them take some time so there is always a cost somewhere but technology has given us the wherewithal to gain control over the who, what, where and when of our communications messages.

Over the past decade email marketing has had a massive impact on communications and its power has not diminished with the advent of social media (as some have predicted). Its popularity remains mainly because email marketing works when it is handled well. Over the next few weeks Bento will include some short and easily understood articles based on tried and tested real life experience. They will help you to improve the way you communicate and drive more business so let’s get started with some vital basics…

The holy grail of email marketing

Get these three good things right and email marketing will be good for you:

1. Good data

If your data is good it will be ‘clean’ and up to date. Try to send emails to a database that is three years old and you will suffer. People change their email addresses so you’ll get lots of ‘bounces’. Have the people on your list asked to receive your emails? If you disrespect their wishes they may accuse you of spamming but a decent provider will help you with all this if you ask them.

2. Good reputation

Trust plays a massive role. Your reputation is usually invested in your brand or, on occasions, an individual. If people trust the sender of the email they are more likely to open it, read it and respond. Lack of trust does the exact opposite… especially in the financial sector.

3. Good advice

If you were active in certain retail areas, this might have been headed up as ‘good offer’ because people like real value for money and don’t like to be deceived. The same goes for the information and advice you give. People will ask… Is it worth giving up my time to read this email? Can I trust what I’m reading? Is it going to benefit me?

Do these three ‘good’ things well and email marketing will do a work for you. Do two of them well and you should be ok. Get only one right and, frankly, you’ll struggle. But the good news is that something can be done about it.

None of this is rocket science but it’s amazing how eye-opening it can be when it is put into practice. Next time we’ll open up these issues a little more.

Tom Sterling

Inboxx

tom@inboxx.co.uk

01429 839292

FSCS partners with Metro, Mail Newspapers and Absolute Radio. Grrrr.

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A definiton of profligate is “recklessly wasteful; wildly extravagant”.

I think that many ‘Mail on Sunday’ reading advisers will have been choking on their Sunday breakfast when they opened this weekend’s edition.

Why?

Well, wrapping neatly around the sports pages was a full colour, four page spread extolling the virtues of the FSCS. The features on “Savings” contained within made reference to various savings strategies and of course the protection the FSCS gives savers.

Now don’t get me wrong, the FSCS is a vitally important organisation and it has, does, should and will be there to protect investors who may be the victim of scams, miss-selling and financial collapse.

But, it is in fact the fund of last resort and it is funded, at vast cost, by the industry. It is not an educator, that seems to be the MAS role these days, and it should not be an advertiser recklessly spending money it often does not have in this way.

Funding of the FSCS is a hot industry (see our survey results) and political topic. It’s funding is seen by many if not all advisers as being highly unfair with calls for very large sums of money to top up empty ‘pots’ coming with very little notice, often with little or no explanation of it’s calculation methodologies and very little time to pay!

Failure to pay will see a firm placed in default and that in turn puts more of a burden on the FSCS.

This type of advertising campaign comes at a huge cost.  So much of a ‘business win’ for the advertising agency was it that it has featured in a big way within Media Week where it was trumpeted: The FSCS has partnered with Associated Newspapers and Absolute Radio as part of a 15-month campaign to build awareness of the financial protection it offers.

It went on to say:

Absolute Radio activity includes a six-part series, ‘Design For Life’, which will present a light-hearted look at important life events, such as holidays, the home, university and marriage……and feature Christian O’Connell, the host of Absolute Radio’s breakfast show and Ian Stone, presenter of Rock ‘N’ Roll Football, with well known comedians. 

The report concluded “This partnerships campaign aims to make more people aware of the protection we provide, by tapping into key areas of interest and highlighting where we can help build financial confidence amongst the British public.”

The FSA proposed last year to hike its annual costs by 15.6 per cent to £578.4m for 2012/13. View the FSA consultation paper on fees and levies for 2012/13 here.

This was on top of an FSCS levy of £33m for 2012/13 confirmed in its plan and budget.

To see the FSCS advertising in this way, foresaking last years crazy billboard initiative, follows in the “stupid spending” footsteps of the numerous Labour government advertising campaigns shouting loudly about all the benefits you should be claiming and how to go about it.

This is a further example, if one were needed, that regulation is a profligate growth industry, now spending your money on vanity projects of awareness creation.

In fact so bad is this example that “Part of the brief stated that the FSCS was looking for an agency that could engage audiences with a “low-interest subject matter”.

The FSCS should not trvialise what it does by spending your hard earned fees on engaging expensive media agencies, comedians and the likes of Ian Wright, Geoff Lloyd, Annabel Port of Absolute Radio’s ‘Hometime’ show, and Pete Donaldson, presenter of the ‘Sunday Night Music Club’ to promote “low interest subject matter”.

Building “financial confidence amongst the British public” is something we as an industry should aspire to deliver.

The FSCS should stick to spending it’s money, in fact your money, on doing what it says on the can and not being profligate.

Noel Coward was a charmer

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For those of you familiar with the punk genre, the lyrics of Ian Dury can throw up some interesting inspiration.

Having recently attended one of the excellent Capita ‘Synaptic Modeller’ road shows, I was most impressed with the giant leaps that technology has made to assist financial advisers in doing an even better job for their clients.

The key message from Capita is that Modeller is unique in its ability to enable users to configure all the key elements in the investment planning process and define the specific criteria defined by your firm’s Investment Management Committee”.

But behind this great innovation can lurk the possibility of considerable adviser danger.

Much has been written over the years about the fact-find bedrock of  “attitude to risk”.

This focus is now in transition, morphing toward capacity for loss (CFL) and it is clear, fresh from attending this road-show, that the consumer redress possibilities that a failure to consider attitude to risk would throw up, going forward, has now very much changed to one of a “capacity for loss”.

If advisers do not chant the same CFL mantra, from what I see, it will all end in retro-regulatory interpretation tears, and, an ocean of consumer redress for advisers to drown in.

This is partly because in retro regulatory world, consumer detriment can often be attributed, increasingly and alarmingly wrongly, and with some regulatory ease to somebody’s/ anybody’s actions, errors or omissions and the result is a potential FOS/FSCS payout, all with the benefit of hindsight.

But unlike a regulator, hindsight is not a detriment metric that can be integrated into any software calculation functionality.

In a recent video interview for FTAdviser, Simon Morris from regulatory legal experts CMS Cameron McKenna, waxed lyrical about UK regulation, the lack of regulatory accountability and the ability for regulators to do what they want without needing to reference parliament for approval, or even as I have often noted, give a cursory regard to the Regulators Code.

What we are seeing in regulation today is another manifestation of  “elf and safety” madness, but in this case with no consideration attached to cost or the impact it has upon firms just trying to do a decent job, looking after their client’s best interests and earning an honest living.

This lack of regulatory accountability impacts the consumer as the higher regulatory costs of paying for failures are simply passed back to them to pay by all involved in the advice process.

In 2013, regulation is it would seem, focused on making sure that consumers never, ever, lose out.

Mr. Morris said “it would be possible for an adviser to thrive but given the challenges of the RDR and the way in which the regulators view “suitability” then the advisory community will be hit by the perfect storm of stricter interpretation of the rules, explaining adviser charging and a triple-dip recession”.

He warned, “it is either change and comply, or get a new job.”

Donald Rumsfeld could have been talking about regulation, not terrorism when he said, there are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know”.

In financial services regulation, the problem with technology is that it can only deal with what is known. And with advisers, as with so many other industries and professions today, in becoming more reliant on technology what do we do if it all goes “Pete Tong”?

For those of a certain age, like me, map reading was a skill developed in an age when distance location finding was depenedent upon a Michelin type map, and sometimes topped up with an Ordnance Survey micro map. I doubt if many born in more recent decades would know too much about this, relying on in car ‘SatNavs’ or combinations of Google Maps and Streetview.

All very well with an internet signal, printer and post code. But if none are available what happens. And the same questions should be asked of financial software today.

But I digress a little.

Regulation today, if it were a game, should be viewed as you, a firm, playing an online game of chess with the regulations being the board and the FSA/FCA being your opponent.

But while you move your pieces on the software ‘chequer board’, the regulator is playing on a different 3 dimensional version of the game using different software and in a different continuum of cyber space and time. The intention being not to make sure regulations are clear and easy to understand, rather to make them as complicated as possible.

A firms’ regulatory failure can then be easily based, if public outcry, regulatory face saving or political opinion warrants it, on what will see a positive outcome for the regulator, politicians and even the consumer, regardless of the advisory firm following all the rules and the advice processes to the letter.

This is because in regulatory land the existence of a consumer miss-buying, possibly hindsight induced by having changed circumstances, aims and aspirations or being wise with the benefit of that same hindsight simply does not compute.

It may be a laudable ideal but it is neither fair nor reasonable that any industry or profession should be placed in a position by which it is judged upon what it did then, based upon what it should do now with the end result creating a form “Nanny state” protecting consumers from bad decision they may have made themselves.

Consumers must absolutely be afforded protection, but this should in the technologically advanced times we live in be by way of ensuring the products and investments, exotic or vanilla, that they ‘consume’ are fit for a clearly defined and understood purpose. And that should be a regulators responsibility and definately not an advisers or a ‘manufacturer’.

Regulation of adviser firms in the way we now see has little purpose these days, if history is anything to go by.

Scandals, product failures and rip off’s happened despite all the perceived good efforts (now seen as the failures) of previous regulators such as NASDIM, FIMBRA, PIA and the FSA to prevent them. And advisers along with the consumer pay for it, not them.

Perhaps consumers would be better protected with simpler, straightforward regulation and products, and importantly a consumer financial education programme starting with basic numeracy and literacy skills in schools.

With the FCA, the scandals, scams and rip off’s will continue, they will just be a little more sophisticated, take longer to expose, will be more costly, with fewer left to pick up the tab and will be driven by technology.

In fact, rather than regulation, perhaps financial services should be nationalised, prescriptive, non innovative and slowly reactive to change. That way nobody loses out and everybody’s capacity for loss is catered for by way of possibility of loss removal. The vehicle exists, NSANDI.

Regulation has turned into one of today’s few successful growth industries. It gives it’s workers unsackable career opportunities based upon civil service lines where jobs are not lost for failure, with no need to justify it’s existence, with no responsibility toward the Parliament that gave it life or indeed anybody.

It needs huge revenue streams to create a real life bureaucratic version of ‘Mad Max’s Thunderdome’ whilst paying what many may see as inflated salaries to the army of accountants, lawyers and other regulatory jobsworths, to support generous pension schemes, to provide health and many other employee benefits all of which many consumers and advisers could only dream of.

So, as we now know from Ian Dury’s lyrics, “there ain’t half been some clever bastards”, but in our industry most of them in regulation are there with the benefit of hindsight and not vision and even with that they cannot get it right.