In his first guest article on Visible Banking, Simon Ryan – Customer Innovation, Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager at Aviva UK – shares his formula to social media success for investment management businesses.
On 4th February 2012, we turned 5 on that date, I announced the launch of the ‘Visible Banking Stars‘ programme as well as the total redesign of VisibleBanking.com. If you are interested in joining our exclusive group of guest bloggers -all bankers, insurers and financial services professionals working in digital / social media / innovation- I invite you to email us.
I am delighted to welcome our newest VB Star, Simon Ryan – Customer Innovation, Digital Marketing and Social Media at Aviva.
In his first article, Simon -freshly back from a productive week and a successful event in Australia- shares with investment management firms his formula for achieving success in social media.
I was privileged to be invited to attend last week’s AIMA 2012 Australian Hedge Fund Forum while I was visiting Sydney.
I met over 150 representatives from Australia, New Zealand and Asia’s leading hedge funds. Principally small enterprises, they are a collective of hard working and client-committed business people.
Hedge funds are essentially focused investment strategies that are designed to return growth on capital, regardless of how overall markets perform without following conventional benchmark tracking approaches. Some funds do represent greater risk, but with that comes the potential for greater returns. Hedge funds are not right for every investor or investment situation, and non-financial professionals should seek advice before making investments with them. Not least because the capital invested is at risk.
The single biggest challenge for any manager of money in the post Global Financial Crisis era is to convince investors to turn cash reserves into investments. The hedge fund challenge is compounded by having to start their persuading much earlier in the decision making process, at the asset allocation level. In simple terms, this means convincing investors that their portfolio that holds major asset classes like real estate, shares and bonds should also include an allocation to hedge funds, and not just choosing which equity fund for example.
A solution that a number of delegates proposed was the industry agreeing to different nomenclatures, such as ‘absolute return funds,’ ‘alternative investment strategies’ and even, ‘capital management.’ But this has been tried before and has never really taken hold.
A more credible recurring solution was for the industry to educate investors that hedge funds are an appropriate asset allocation choice to sit alongside conventional investments like fixed income and equity benchmark trackers. Not the high-risk wild-west investment strategy that the media often portrays them as. However, every hedge fund’s investment strategy is by definition, unique, so this would be a mammoth task.
I suggested to the delegates I met that the issue was less about education or what they are called, than it is about trust. Trying to educate potential investors to understand every fund and every name is a mammoth task and could muddy the issue further.
The investment management sector that I work in, and the hedge fund industry have a huge advantage over many industries; we are clearly regulated. This means we have a clear brief to be transparent about who we are, how we are organised and how we will manage our client’s money.
Regulation provides the opportunity for investment managers and hedge funds that are sincere about their profession and client’s outcomes to weed out those that are not. Simultaneously, it creates the challenge for the remaining organisations to find ways to build trust beyond their competitors.
The regulator’s requirements are designed to provide investor confidence, but to me, they are the entry level. Successfully building trust comes from demonstrating expertise and becoming familiar. Both of these crucial ingredients in establishing trust can be achieved through using social media.
Consumers now trust each other in ways we haven’t seen since the traders of the earliest civilisations, and with minimal intervention from any authority.
Imagine buying an expensive product from someone using a false name, without knowing their exact location and paying in advance of shipping. Well that’s exactly what thousands of people do on eBay every hour and around the world. Evidence that trust can be built and it can be sustained.
It is the investment firms that go beyond seeking to complete a transaction for their client to become part of their social networks that succeed. I call this breed of financial services providers, Social Advisors.
Social Advisors build trust and multiply it through social networks: Sharing content that is of value to their investor communities based on sound investment performance. Content that stimulates conversations among peers and demonstrates expertise. Content on social media platforms where informed dialogue can take place and new ideas flourish. Just as a smart expert would do in person, in life, in their social and business circles.
And as with all good investment strategies, I have a formula:
- Expertise + Familiarity = Trust
- Trust X Network / Good Performance = Social Advisors
- Social Advisors = Successful Business
In my next blog for Visible Banking, I’ll take a look at some of the great examples of investment management firms operating as Social Advisors.
Unless stated otherwise any opinions expressed are those of Simon J Ryan. They should not be viewed as indicating any guarantee of return from an investment managed by Aviva Investors nor as advice of any nature.
Aviva Investors Global Services Limited, registered in England No. 1151805. Registered Office: No. 1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ. Authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Services Authority and a member of the Investment Management Association.
You are a financial advisor who has already enjoyed success with social media? What do you think of Simon’s formula?
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