Editor’s note: The following article is by Graham Aikin, a former private banker who now operates his own consultancy, The Bizlinks, focusing on issues relating to social media and the wealth management sector. His views are his own but this website is grateful for permission to publish them. As always, responses are welcome.
One of the overriding concerns that both high net worth clients and their advisors regularly raise when considering whether to use social media is that of privacy.
For advisors, social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are an incredibly powerful tool to raise awareness of your brand and client proposition, connect with your target market and key decision-makers, and expand your professional network. For HNW individuals, depending on what they want to use it for, social media can be a great place to connect with like-minded people to exchange ideas, discuss trends, and conduct investment research, for example.
However, in this age of ever-increasing interconnectedness in the “hyper net” (which is the internet, plus wireless devices, as well as any other ways of connecting via technology) and the trend towards greater transparency and the sharing of personal information, many potential users of social media are missing out on the opportunities it provides because of a perceived concern that being online will result in the global community having access to all of your personal information or seeing you or a member of your family in a less than sober condition after an enjoyable night out.
The technology industry is acutely aware of these concerns and all the major social networks have addressed the issue by integrating a great deal of functionality on their platforms, some of which I have covered below:
LinkedIn - this network is probably the one to be least concerned about, for a number of reasons. First, the user can put as little or as much information about themselves on their profile as they wish and in any event the bulk of the information should relate to their professional rather than personal life. Secondly, the platform does not allow any users to upload anything other than a professional headshot of themselves, let alone photographs of other users. Many advisors in the private banking space do not want to share their LinkedIn connections with other users, and again these can be hidden if absolutely necessary (I would however discourage this as the spirit of LinkedIn is one of collaboration). The Settings tab also allows users to completely tailor their settings in terms of what information they will allow other users to see about them.