Covid-19 Is Hurting Podcasts. Here’s How Advisors Can Be Heard Above the Din.

Say goodbye to evergreen topics.

(Toru Hanai/Bloomberg)

(Toru Hanai/Bloomberg)

With Americans social distancing and working from home, usual audio habits are being turned upside down. No more listening to your favorite podcast on the morning commute, at the gym, or while running errands. And while there are now more potential listeners available (and bosses who wouldn’t notice), podcast usage is actually down. That leaves financial advisors who host podcasts wondering if they should hit the pause button or keep talking.

As the stock market roils and unemployment grows, many Americans are looking to their advisors for information, advice, and support. If those advisors also host podcasts, they can dig deep into topics vexing their clients, such as the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), and what to do with investments and retirement accounts. It’s an effective way to speak to a larger audience.

To help address client concerns, Tennessee-based Abound Wealth Management’s managing partner Brian Preston and partner Bo Hanson host “The Money Guy Show” podcast. The pair produce several Covid-19-related episodes per week, tackling topics like decoding the CARES act and stimulus checks. They’ve livestreamed shows with Q&A opportunities, too.

“Do not assume that because listeners are tuning out on traditional financial topics that they are going away,” said Preston. “There is a tremendous hunger for actionable and educational information.”

But podcast data tells a mixed story. Since early March, when most of the country went under shelter-in-place directives, podcast downloads and listening have been declining, according to Chartable analysis of 6,000 podcasts. Podcast consumption is down from January and February, however, compared to March 2019, listening is up slightly, according to recent Podtrac data.

These declines are a stark contrast to podcasting’s recent boom. This year, 37% of Americans said they listened to podcasts monthly, up from 32% a year earlier and 17% in 2015, according to the 2020 Infinite Dial report. Before the coronavirus upended the advertising market, the IAB forecasted that by 2021 podcast advertising would surpass $1 billion.

Amid the current crisis, there are opportunities for podcasters to build audience. Americans are looking for financial guidance and explanations, and advisor podcasts can be a steadying voice. According to a new survey from Edelman, 85% say brands should help educate consumers, while 83% of respondents say they want brands to express empathy and support.

A good podcast keeps clients informed and an advisor top-of-mind. In recent weeks, Taylor Schulte, a Certified Financial Planner and host of retirement podcast “Stay Wealthy,” has increased his show from twice a month to two episodes per week.

Schulte used to pick evergreen topics, but now Schulte is all-Covid-19 and brings on expert guests. To extend the shows, he repurposes the podcasts as fodder for his blog and videos. “People aren’t listening where they usually are, so we need to expand our reach,” Schulte said.

Advisors also should pay special attention to when they publish new episodes. With people stuck at home without their customary commutes, podcast downloads have been declining earlier in the day and shifting to evenings and weekends, according to Podtrac data. For the week of March 30 to April 5, downloads during morning commute were down 23% compared to the first week of March.

Amid all the upheaval, there’s opportunity for RIAs to sharpen their hosting skills or even launch a new show. Says Schulte: “This is a great time to educate people and become a trusted source so when things return to normal, you’re top of mind.”

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