The world was amazed when Richard Branson, CEO and founder of countless consumer ventures, started to tweet three years ago about his company, events and his personal life. Branson was one of the first CEOs who broke with the common practice that high ranking representatives of companies should stay out of social media. The legendary entrepreneur started tweeting and many were to follow.
Large banking groups and multinational wealth managers feel the challenge to give their firm a human face in age of digital ubiquity. Personal contact with clients, to build or launch relationships, is invaluable especially for wealth managers. With more people spending more time at their desktops, notebooks and mobile devices in the big 5 social networks offline personal contact becomes a scarce good. However, social media offer new opportunities to get close and personal to client. But corporate social media presences and company profiles on social media are not sufficient to foster a real personal relationship on a social network. Only individuals can offer that human touch: Why not follow my personal financial advisor via her Facebook updates? Why not talk to my wealth manager´s CEO via Twitter? Why not ask my bank’s head of the investment committee about the latest economic insights on LinkedIN?
Personalized social media refer to social media channels on either the local/regional level such as country, state or branch level and personal social media presences linked to one person such as a CEO, CIO, or a regular personal financial advisor. These presences bridge the gap between wealth manager and client.
The global wealth manager UBS allows clients to take a closer look at CEO Jürg Zeltner via his personalized blog on the website. Users get information about his career and development within the bank, can listen to his podcasts and read his regular updates.
Alan Higgins, UK CIO of the English wealth manager Coutts, is remarkably active on his Twitter channel. Besides financial market updates he also tweets about cultural events or “best movie of…” list. Moreover, Higgins pays attention to his users by responding quickly and casually to comments to his tweets. A lively Twitter account with high value for customers and a real personal touch are the results.
An outstanding example for local level presences is also German Commerzbank which serves its customers with channels on Facebook for its Hamburg and Munich branches. Customers can get information about opening times, the local team and contact options. The social media team invites users to local events to get to know the bank bridging the online-offline customer experience.
One can imagine many more ways to use social media as a tool to personalize the client experience. It’s up to the financial institutions to leverage this opportunity despite regulatory and other hurdles that might limit the specific content a bank can publish over social media channels.