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January 9, 2012updated 13 Apr 2017 8:46am

UK advisers testing the social media water

The common perception amongst 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.

By LII editorial

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 contacts.”

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.”

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