Whether the aim is to calm clients when markets wobble, remind them to complete important tasks or just keep relationships humming along, financial advisors are better off having face-to-face meetings than turning to electronic stand-ins.
Person-to-person contact resonates best, says Michael Byrnes, a Boston area business-planning and communications consultant to advisors.
The goodwill derived from such get-togethers lasts longer and the follow-through taken in response is swifter and more on point.
But time constraints and distance mean old-fashioned meetings aren’t always practical — not for advisors and not for their busy clients.
So FAs turn to email, newsletters, social media and of course the telephone in their attempts to get through.
But for recipients these can be easy to set aside and forget, even where there’s every intention of reviewing things when it’s more convenient.
And these media don’t always lend themselves to customization, either from compliance or more purely practical considerations.
Even Skype or Google Hangouts video live chats, touted sometimes as good proxies for actual sit-downs, call for setting aside precious time beforehand, and following through with the obligation.
So Byrnes — who, mind you, has a financial interest in the proposition — suggests customized videos.
“They’re the next step up from meeting in person,” the consultant says.
To help advisors make and send videos which can be tailored to particular recipients, Byrnes’ company has packaged cloud-based software from BombBomb that lets advisors make and send bespoke videos in minutes.
Unlike getting a standard text e-message, “there’s still a ‘wow’ factor” to receiving a video missive, says Byrnes, explaining how a white-label BombBomb email can hit its mark and actually get opened.
“It’s fun to get one, and they’re neat to see.”
BombBomb — which already has a name in custom videos for the real estate space — is easy to use, says Byrnes.
Instead of fiddling with external mics and cameras, you can use your laptop’s built-in gear to record a message in seconds (see example below).
And while smartphone users may be accustomed to this sort of immediacy, they’re also aware videos of more than a few seconds are too big to email directly and have either to be uploaded to a video-streaming service like YouTube or a file-sharing software like DropBox.
The standard process, in other words, is time-consuming, finicky and dependent on recipients taking extra steps before they can see the video, says Byrnes.
With BombBomb, Byrnes has his service configured for FAs. You just sign on, click a button, make your video, and send it.
And if the recipient wants to, they can send a video message right back.
“It doesn’t call for a studio or special lighting,” says Byrnes.
The videos can be formatted to include the sender’s branding and required disclosures.
Further to compliance, BombBomb automatically backs up sent videos in its archive.
Jeff Bradanini, marketing chief at Beirne Wealth Consulting in Milford, Conn., likes BombBomb because it’s “very easy to use” and it “integrates directly to my Outlook,” he writes in an email exchange with FA-IQ.
“Although we are financial advisors, I like to say that we are in the relationship business too,” adds Bradanini, whose employer manages about $2.5 billion. “The video-messaging feature sets us apart from other RIAs.”
Bruce Wiener of Wiener Financial in Potomac, Md., is another BombBomb user.
In his hands it’s a talking-head supplement to his monthly text newsletter, and a way to convey customized greetings and reminders to individuals, whether clients, prospects or others he does business with.
“It’s like, ‘Hey Bob, have you looked into the insurance we talked about?’” says Wiener, whose firm manages about $110 million.
And though the production values aren’t especially slick — “Martin Scorsese has nothing to worry about,” Wiener says — the videos are still “a great call to action.”
Adds Wiener: “The feedback is in clients’ responsiveness to the videos and I have to say we’re getting real quick responses now.”
Wiener calls the cost of BombBomb “very reasonable.”
In fact, Byrnes’ pricing for BombBomb is $39 a month for up to 2,500 contacts and $49 a month for up to 3,500 contacts.
There’s also a full-support, bells-and-whistles version for an initial setup fee of $1,299 that’s renewable for $588 a year.
BombBomb doesn’t have much competition, according to Byrnes.
“The best alternative” was VSnap, he says. But that “got bought out” and isn’t taking any new customers.