Almost Famous: Investors Don’t Care About Advisor Media Appearances

Whether or not a financial professional is in the press matters to few investors, according to a new study. Wealth managers should be focusing on something else.

(Illustration by RIA Intel)

(Illustration by RIA Intel)

More financial advisors are getting active on social media, starting podcasts, and trying to line up TV appearances, even though the impact of those things on a business is hard to predict. Some swear their public personalities onscreen or in the airwaves have differentiated them and attracted prospective clients. But a new report suggests most advisors shouldn’t bother investing time and money expanding their media presence.

Asked what the most trusted sources of financial advice were last year and this year, individual investors in the U.S. definitively chose financial advisors or believe they are their own best source of advice. Some also said their partner, spouse, or a family member, according to new data from Northwestern Mutual’s 2021 Planning & Progress Study, a report based on surveys of more than 2,300 Americans by The Harris Poll.

Tied for last place — even with the internet as an option — were friends and “financial professionals in the media.”

Prospective clients are most often referred to a financial advisor by an existing client or another professional, such as an accountant or lawyer. But prospects who don’t know someone who can recommend an advisor might turn to whoever they’ve seen on TV — or so you might think.

Only 3% of survey respondents said they trust financial professionals in the media, equating to roughly 70 people. That might not excite any advisor looking to grow their business. But the same small percentage applied to, say, the population of a large region or the entire country could translate into a significant number of people capable of being influenced by an advisor’s media presence.

Timely Topics

Regardless of how a wealth manager connects with a prospective client, the survey revealed some topics advisors should broach with them.

Investors’ top financial planning priorities in the next 12 months were hardly a surprise: paying bills and expenses, saving for retirement, and paying off debt. They also plan to focus on taking care of their families and investing.

Therein lies the opportunity for advisors. Investors might not understand that creating a long-term financial plan, adjusting an existing one, or just specifically saving for a milestone, could help them achieve their top priorities.

Whether an advisor was recommended by a family member, or rose to fame on CNBC, the people seeking them often face similar problems.

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