Independent financial advisers
(IFAs) in the UK are slowly coming to terms with the significance
of social media in their work. But despite this, for many IFAs
social media remains very much unfamiliar territory.

“The common perception among many
IFAs is that social media is a time-wasting fad, but large numbers
are now fully embracing it as an important business tool,” said
Philip Calvert, founder of IFA Life, an online business and
financial social networking website dedicated to IFAs, mortgage
brokers and financial planners.

Indicative of the uptake of social
media for business purposes by IFAs, research by IFA Life suggests
that up to 70% of IFAs now have a profile on LinkedIn.

In addition, IFA Life found that
about one out of two IFAs have a personal Facebook account and that
between 35% and 40% have a Twitter account.

Emphasising the significance of
LinkedIn in particular, Calvert stressed: “LinkedIn is an
incredibly powerful site which enables IFAs to raise their profile,
enhance the perception of their expertise and to find valuable

However, on the downside, IFA
Life’s research also found that the majority of IFAs admit to not
understanding how to make effective use of LinkedIn. As for
Facebook, less than 10% of IFA’s were found to have a business
Facebook account.

Underscoring the importance of
effective use by IFAs of social media, Calvert continued: “The
internet is the first port of call for most people who are looking
for information on personal finances, but all too often consumers
can’t see the difference between one IFA and another.

“Now that IFAs are using social
media, they need to move to the next step, not just to randomly
connect with people, but to use it to manage their reputation and
identity online so that they stand out from the crowd.”

Calvert is also highly critical of
attempts to suppress the use of social media.

“It’s incredibly short-sighted of some networks and IFA firms to
ban the use of social media, and this will inevitably see IFAs
going elsewhere,” he stressed. “It’s a bit like banning IFAs from
attending dinner parties.”