Twitter has exploded over the past couple of years. If you’re not using it, chances are you’ve heard a lot about it. But what’s so fascinating about a stream of short 140-character posts? Think about it- Twitter’s advantage is its ability to deliver up-to-the-minute and on-demand information. Major corporations and personalities now use this platform to effectively communicate with their “followers”.
Micro-blogging sites like Twitter have had a profound effect on modern society. They’ve become a medium for up-to-the-minute news, a communication tool in times of crisis, and even a facilitator for democratic revolutions. The “Twitter Era” is a phrase that has been thrown around to define the current state. Because of Twitter, people have developed a need for immediacy and a need for on demand information. Twitter has also revolutionized information delivery into a non-linear model, where anyone can contribute to the information flow. Without any filters, this leads to noise and information overload. Academics have called this the “CNBC effect”.
“I’m too busy to think long-term”
However, what does this all mean to the financial advisory world? Turns out, it means that the behavior of clients has changed in response to the “Twitter Era”. A recent study by Northwestern Mutual found that today’s “Twitter Era” has made it even more difficult for Americans to stay focused on long-term goals, including financial goals. A full 69% of people who were polled stated that the information overload makes it difficult to stick to long-term goals. Additionally, 25% of those polled said that they are often or always too busy to think about long-term goals.
“We’re living at a time of extraordinary progress and transformative change, where the tools we carry around every day allow us to do almost anything from anywhere at any time,” says Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president. “Still, many of the most important things in life can’t or shouldn’t be done at lightning speed. Having a long-term financial plan is a perfect example. There simply are no shortcuts for that.”
Is there a way to keep clients focused on their financial picture against the onslaught of conflicting information in the “Twitter Era”?
3 Steps to help Twitter Era clients focus on long-term goals
1. Observe the Twitter Revolution
If you’re not already using Twitter, it’s a good idea to simply browse the website. Look at the profiles of your favorite brands, public figures or bloggers. The aim is to get a sense of what it means to be a part of the “Twitter Era”. You’ll observe how the investors of the “Twitter Era” expect concise information at their fingertips, rather than long 40-page performance reports.
2. Recognize the opportunities the “Twitter Era” provides
In the same study, 66% of Americans polled find the immediacy of electronic devices to be efficient. In the future, this percentage is likely to increase as NextGen Investors enter the market. Today’s investors are accustomed to the fast-paced and electronic interactions of the “Twitter Era”. They expect a concise picture of their financial situation, on-demand 24/7. It requires advisors to provide them with a platform that’s suited to their electronic-centric behavior. Current technology allows this to be possible…
3. Satisfy the need for immediacy
A client portal that provides instant access to a complete and up-to-date financial picture is a way to satisfy this need. For example Blueleaf’s client portal has been created to provide simple, consolidated and accurate information about a client’s financials. They can access this information whenever they want (no more waiting for monthly reports). In addition, the client portal becomes a filter for all the information that’s available. Clients are able to see their financial position and what truly has affected them. By making this available to the clients, advisors have been able to advise and focus on long-term goals, instead of answering questions about short-term positions.
The solution isn’t to fight the “Twitter Era”, it’s to adapt. And the key to adapting is understanding how people of the “Twitter Era” behave, what their new needs are, and how to attract them as clients to your business. Failing to do this will make you irrelevant to new and future generations of clients. It’s an opportunity waiting to be seized. Go ahead – carpe diem.