RIAs Plan to Grow Business, Use More Social Media

Almost half (46%) of surveyed registered investment advisers (RIA) are looking to social media to gain new clients, according to a survey by Rydex|SGI.
Advisers also see social-networking platforms as a way to enhance communication with current clients (35%) and as a way to advertise or promote their firms (30%). More than half of surveyed advisers think social media will have a lasting impact on the financial services industry. While the survey results don’t explain why advisers use the following services, about half of advisers reporting using LinkedIn (42%), followed by Facebook (27%), YouTube (15%), and Twitter (13%).

Using social media is one way advisers will try to grow their businesses after the difficult environment in 2008. RIAs cited their top goals as business growth (69%) and increased client satisfaction (45%). Almost three-fourths (72%) of RIAs said they are already in a growth stage, with eight in 10 surveyed RIAs reporting that total assets under management have increased (72%) or remained steady (8%) over the past year. Likewise, most respondents (70%) added new clients. Advisers attributed the growth to market growth (88%), assets from new clients (88%), and new assets from existing clients (72%).

Despite the goal to increase business, the survey found that business spending is only up slightly. In the next 12 months, advisers (surveyed in November and December) expect to increase spending on technology (40%), marketing (42%), and client appreciation activities (23%), while cutting back on travel (28%), salaries (21%), and bonuses (41%).

As the markets have gone up, some adviser stress levels have gone down. Advisers have a “medium” level of stress, or a 5.8 on a scale of 1 to 10, according to the survey. Since last year, stress levels are actually higher for 34% of RIAs and lower for 45%. For about a fifth (21%) of advisers, stress levels stayed the same. To “recharge,” advisers said they are spending more time with family and friends (54%), increasing their exercise routine (50%), changing their diet regiment (29%), and engaging in a personal hobby (23%).

The 2010 Rydex|SGI AdvisorBenchmarking Semiannual study was conducted through online surveys of 356 RIA firms from November to December.