Wealth Managers Demand Social Media Skills To Cement Ties With Clients

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Social media skills are quickly climbing the list of qualities wealth management hiring managers are seeking, as firms race to meet client demands for better communication and greater transparency.

"There's a re-energized push around what people are calling digital or e-commerce," says Bill Liguori, co-founder and partner of Leadership Capital Group, an executive search firm. Financial services organizations, he observes, "are starting to invest money hiring people to build out these e-commerce teams."

He recalls how heavy investment in technology helped Schwab and Fidelity became leaders in do-it-yourself trading 20 years ago. Today, wealth management firms are deploying online media, social media, and a variety of networking tools to connect clients both with their advisors and with their own portfolio data. Instead of being roped off as a separate activity as in the 1990s, e-commerce efforts now are integrated with firms' wider client service offerings and marketing plans. Liguori cites Citigroup's "My Citi" application as an example.

The push is spawning career opportunities for Web-savvy managers on both the technology and marketing sides of the business. One example: Leadership Capital Group was assigned to search for a vice president of self-directed investing, who would oversee a build-out of online information-sharing tools and analytics. The technology aimed both to cement ties between clients and advisors and help advisors manage their clients' assets more effectively. The role called for experience in Web service technology (both development and content) and managing relationships with third-party developers. It also required an ability to collaborate with the marketing team and sufficient business acumen to devise a profitable strategy for ongoing digital investment.

A June poll by outsourced asset management and processing firm SEI found private banking wealth managers and operations personnel say their clients want significantly enhanced financial reporting in a post-Madoff world. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said clients are asking for enhanced reporting, and 87.7 percent of firms said they're making enhanced reporting is a top priority. Portfolio aggregation was a central demand.

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