Putnam study finds social media vital to advisors' work during pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 74% of U.S. financial advisors who used social media for business initiated new relationships or onboarded new clients, according to the Putnam Investments Social Advisor 2020 Study.  The new research found that 55% of advisors who initiated new client relationships say they had increased their use of social media during the pandemic.

Advisors adapt to environment

One of the crucial findings of the study is that advisors have proven adept at managing their practices through the public health crisis by finding additional ways of engaging their clients, including greater use of social media. Notably, 84% of respondents expect that the changes made to their communications methods will largely be kept intact moving forward.

“Social media is playing a very significant role in everybody’s professional and personal life, especially with the pandemic. You can either choose to take advantage of it or try to ignore it. With the assistance of our marketing department and our home office, I have decided to embrace this change.”
— Wirehouse advisor

The study found that nearly three quarters of advisors (74%) relied on direct messaging through key social network platforms to communicate with clients and prospects; of those, 94% reported gaining new assets.

advisors using messaging on social networks

Social platforms of choice

While all of the social network platforms tracked showed increased use since the first Putnam Social Advisor Study in 2013, and more advisors use multiple platforms, LinkedIn remains the clear leader and Facebook remains in second place and is leveraged more for a blend of personal and business use.

social media networks used for business

In their use of LinkedIn during the first few months of the pandemic, nearly half of advisors (48%) who initiated new relationships report using the platform’s InMail feature to contact out-of-network prospects and 36% say they have hosted or participated in a LinkedIn Live session. Additionally, 80% of advisors who initiated new relationships since late February were subscribed to one of LinkedIn’s premium memberships.

Home office support makes a difference

Nearly 90% of advisors reported that support from their home offices made a positive difference as they worked remotely by enabling and supporting their use of social media. Importantly, advisors pointed toward specific areas where their home offices have laid the groundwork for their social media efforts, including providing timely content to post ; expanding the number of social networks approved for business use; providing access to support resources; and offering training.

The new normal

Nine in ten advisors say that social media has changed the nature of client relationships during the pandemic. And, one year from now, advisors expect slightly more new business to come from social media activity.

Survey methodology

The survey was conducted online from June 9 to June 23, 2020, in conjunction with NMG Consulting, and included 252 financial advisors across the United States who have advised retail clients for more than two years and have used social media for business. The 2020 edition of the research builds upon seven previous editions of the Putnam Social Advisor Study.