A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading an article published in Reuters titled “Private banks seek missing digital link with customers-UBS exec”.
I'm thrilled to see a wealth management industry leader such as yourself finally come out and say this, but seeing as it's taken so long for that to happen, let me help you catch up to where social media has gone since you first heard about it.
You mentioned that more people are on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more. That’s absolutely true, you also asked the pertinent question: “What if they begin getting investment advice through those channels?"
The thing is Juerg (can I call you Juerg?) that wealth management advisors are already doing that, particularly independent financial advisors, or at least that's where the relationship is started. Social media is full of them, and guess what? A lot of them are smart and capable. That’s what makes this so hard for us private bankers. We are having market share taken out from under our noses and we can’t see it and we can’t quantify it, because those relationships are started in social media then moved along via direct messages, then email then phone calls then face-to-face meetings that end up in deals being closed. We private bankers don’t see this action happening, because we aren’t on social media to see it.
“I don't believe my 17-year-old son will interact with his bank the same way I do.” That’s a good observation and it’s not just your son, it’s the adults and even the geriatrics who are in on it. My 70 something parents-in-law (and my parents) use social media, they’ve been using it for years. They are not some tech savvy grannies and granddaddies, they are a nurse, a lawyer, a doctor and a seamstress. Yet they do everything via social media. I watched one of them make short documentary videos of their holiday on their smart phone, post them on Flickr and then share them via Facebook with the grandkids and friends. These folks are pushing 70 and they rock social media like a Millenial. They aren't outliers Jeurg, they are the norm.
You mention that UBS is “dabbling” in social media. I am delighted to hear that UBS continues to be a leader in our industry, but “dabbling” is precisely why our industry has been so unsuccessful at social media. Juerg, please don’t dabble. Take the bull by the horns and go out there and get market share. It’s not difficult. At least it shouldn’t be. What is private banking if not a relationship management business? It’s what us private bankers do better than anyone else. Our problem is that we are not active where our potentials and our existing clients are. Try this: Have your bankers ask their clients if they are on social media. You and they’ll be surprised how many are actively using it, they just haven’t told their banker. Know your client Juerg.
Look at it like this. People find new spouses, make friends, listen to recommendations, buy cars, they do all the big things in life via social media and the web. How is it possible that we, the experts in relationship management aren’t there?
Social media is small talk and general interests. Have you ever told your bankers they shouldn’t do small talk with their clients? Of course you haven’t and that's just what social media is. We get to know each other there.
I’m sure you have employees who are into wine, single malt whisky, classic cars, art, whatever. Guess what, so are their clients and prospects and they are talking about it on social media, a lot! That’s where connections are made, relationships started, you need to be there with a real commitment, not dabbling.
There is no legal impediment stopping you or your bankers from being in that space and being active. You can easily implement a policy of what is in bounds for discussions and what is out of bounds, then you let your best people loose and let them build relationships. Let them do what they do best.
I’m also happy to see that you are working with start-ups. That’s brilliant. Start-ups are great fun and exciting. However, you already have the necessary skills in house to build new business, use it.
Whatever you do, do not build your social media strategy on a traditional media model. Social media isn’t a place where you just post market analysis and links to press releases. You can do all those things, but if there isn’t a human or a social aspect driving it; people talking to people, then you will get no traction. No one will listen, no one will interact and at best you will be ridiculed.
I hope this helps and I wish you luck. Welcome to the world of social media for private bankers.