American Century Investments® Research Shows Financial Professionals Feel Social Media Provides Return

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American Century announces sixth annual social media study results

According to American Century Investments’ sixth annual Financial Professionals Social Media Adoption Study, some 43% of advisors have attributed a return on investment to social media use.

Not only do financial professionals increasingly use social media in their practice, but they believe they’re beginning to see the dividends. According to American Century Investments’ sixth annual Financial Professionals Social Media Adoption Study, some 43% of advisors have attributed a return on investment to social media use. The research study examined advisor usage and attitudes toward social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“Determining return on investment of social media and other marketing approaches can be a challenge, so this year, we wanted to ask advisors whether they were seeing a difference in how social media furthers their client relationships,” according to Brent Bowen, corporate communications director for American Century. "And how effective, in particular, is LinkedIn?” Bowen said.

The use of social media, especially LinkedIn, with financial professionals continues to grow, according to the study.

The majority of financial professionals (95%) surveyed have experience, ranging from minimal to extensive with social media. Six out of 10 report moderate to extensive experience. Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media vehicle (75% report having an account), but close behind is LinkedIn (70%). Twitter is a distant third (37%).

In terms of specific value, some 17% of respondents had acquired business of at least $1 million in part because of social media. Slightly more than one out of four (27%) advisors stated they had acquired a new client or gained a relatively large amount of business from an existing client in part because of social media. Just over half (52%) of advisors believed being connected on social media with someone for business purposes increased the likelihood of doing business. Furthermore, 44% of those surveyed feel social media has value for their business and 54% believe is has significant future potential for businesses like theirs.

The impact of LinkedIn on advisors’ business is clear, according to Bowen. “We found that LinkedIn has helped 74% of financial professionals in developing expertise or building their business,” he said. “In fact, this year, we saw an 11% increase this year over last in using it for brand building purposes, which further underscores its utility for advisors.”

Nearly half (48%) of investment professionals felt LinkedIn enhanced their profile with their clients, and 28% credited LinkedIn with enhancing their business knowledge and improving their referrals, respectively. Business promotion and brand building continued to be the top reason advisors used LinkedIn (41%), followed by monitoring industry and market news (37%).

However, adoption of LinkedIn premium services has been slow. The majority of financial professionals (77%) are not using any premium services. Of those who do use them, Business Plus is the most popular (9%), followed by firm subscriptions to the premium package containing all services (6%), advertising and Sales Navigator Professional (4%, respectively).

Financial professionals see LinkedIn Groups as the most important social media offering from asset managers, according to the study. Roughly one forth (24%) of respondents listed those groups as the most important social media offering an asset manager could provide, followed by advisor communities (18%), blogs and Facebook pages (9%, respectively).

“This says to us that providing opportunities for financial professionals to connect with and learn from each other is a value-added service that asset managers can provide,” Bowen said.

The survey revealed that professionalism is paramount if an asset manager wants to build and maintain a relationship with financial professionals on social media. A majority (61%) of advisors believe that asset management firms are smart to explore social media, and slightly less than half (42%) believe social media is a wise use of asset management firms’ time and resources. When asked why they would follow an asset manager on social media, slightly more than half (54%) want content they can’t get elsewhere, followed by a site’s ease of use (42%). Top business uses of social media include reading expert commentary and insights (28%), sharing news or content relevant to clients (17%) and researching people such as prospects, contacts or current clients (12%). The top three types of content advisors want to receive from asset managers include commentary or market insight (59%), market news (56%) and educational content to share with clients (41%).

However, 59% of financial professionals stated a lack of professionalism when it comes to social media would keep them from doing business with an asset manager, followed closely by the 57% who said a privacy or data breach would do the same.

Other “deal breakers” for advisors include regulatory and privacy concerns and home office restrictions. Concerns about regulatory of compliance issues decreased for the third year in a row (32%). However, advisors continue to worry more about potential privacy breaches (up to 25% from 21% last year) and home office restrictions on use (up to 23% from 19% last year).

Half (51%) of advisors report that their firms prohibit posting content that has not been pre-approved, as well as content posts of products or services (24%). Three out of four (74%) survey respondents work for a firm with a formal social media policy, up from two out of four (53%) only four years ago.

“These concerns aren’t surprising, given the fact that companies and home offices have increased their scrutiny as advisors and society as a whole are more focused on social media,” Bowen said. “But that focus also could mean advisors are finding compliant ways to participate.”

The results of American Century Investments’ sixth annual Financial Professionals Social Media Adoption Study were drawn from an online survey of 300 financial professionals who are employed as financial advisors, brokers or registered investment advisors. Research Now, a large, global online research panel provider, provided the sample source and survey hosting. Meridian Marketing handled data collection and data weighting functions. Study participants averaged 17 years in the financial industry; roughly 71% were male, and the average age was 50.

American Century Investments is a leading privately held investment management firm, committed to delivering superior investment performance and building long-term client relationships since its founding in 1958. Serving investment professionals, institutions, corporations and individual investors, American Century Investments offers a variety of actively managed investment disciplines through an array of products including mutual funds, institutional separate accounts, commingled trusts and sub-advisory accounts. The company's 1,300 employees serve clients from offices in New York; London; Hong Kong; Mountain View, Calif.; and Kansas City, Mo. Jonathan S. Thomas is president and chief executive officer and Victor Zhang and David MacEwen serve as co-chief investment officers. Delivering investment results to clients enables American Century Investments to distribute over 40% of its profits to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, a 500-person, non-profit basic biomedical research organization. The Institute is the controlling owner of American Century Investments and has received dividend payments totaling over $1 billion since 2000. For more information about American Century Investments, visit

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©2015 American Century Proprietary Holdings, Inc.

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Laura Kouri

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