Late night host Jimmy Kimmel irregularly features an unintentional joke of the day, and a press release by Accenture yesterday inspires citing this news item as one of those unintentional jokes. The Accenture study poignantly points out how incredibly wrongheaded advisors are in understanding aspects of social media and client relationships. But it then goes on to quote advisors as if surveying them provides useful insight.
The survey offers some revealing facts showing how advisors perceptions of themselves and their clients are often misguided:
• 42% of advisors described their clients as “very knowledgeable” about investing compared with just 12% of investors.
• 1% of advisors described their clients as “not knowledgeable” about investing, compared to 25% of investors.
• 28% of advisors described their clients as “aggressive” investors while 13% of investors surveyed described themselves that way.
• 67% percent of advisors claim to have a “personal relationship” with their clients, while only 38% of clients viewed the relationship with their advisor as “personal.”
Based on these results, you would have to conclude that advisors’ opinions of themselves and their clients are often off base, which is why most of the rest of the survey’s findings should not be taken too seriously, including these facts:
• 74% of advisors believe social media helps them increase assets under management
• 50% claim to have successfully used social media to convert prospects into client
• 49% say firms that fail to leverage social media will lose clients to firms that do.
As a reporter who has written hundreds of stories about surveys, I understand their value in content marketing. But I also have come to learn that most surveys of advisors are flawed and can easily misrepresent reality.
For example, according to Accenture’s press release, the survey of advisors included 400 U.S.-based financial advisors, with 250 of them working for at least two years at brokerages, wirehouses or banks, and the remainder being independents or representatives of regional banks or insurance firms. Seventy percent were men. The 1,005 investors surveyed were investors or intended to invest within three years and use social media at least every week.
These advisors are not very representative of the more highly-skilled, experienced and credentialed professionals who are A4A members. The study lumps in independent advisors with wirehouse brokers, salespeople with professionals. The clients, thus, are also probably not representative of clients of A4A members.
Yet the trade press loves survey stories like this one and reported on the release yesterday. Because a clever public relations executive has made it so easy to turn a one-page press release into a sexy headline and story in 30 minutes or less, survey stories like this get picked up in trade publications.
With content so important because it draws visits and forces them to look at popup ads, the quality of journalism real advisors are getting is suffering. Compounding the problem, the advisor market is fragmented.
I guess our unintentional joke of the day isn't all that funny.