Who doesn’t want, or wouldn’t want to be, a “trusted advisor?”

For decades, the term has been sprinkled across the marketing collateral of wealth managers, accounting firms, technology providers, management consultants, and increasingly further afield. It holds such cache, that everyone from communications teams to carpet cleaners has adopted it.  

You’d expect those working in the financial services sector would have a high level of skepticism regarding the claims of some “social media experts” before elevating them to the role of “trusted advisor.”  But you’d be wrong.

True, many service providers are trusted by the companies and people that hire them. Most often, however, they fail to attain the elevated status of “advisor.” If there’s one sector that should recognize the distinction, it’s the wealth management community. The original trusted advisors, asset managers, provide research and analysis that allow clients to make informed decisions about their financial futures.

That advisor’s fundamental understanding of economic trends and market cycles by itself would justify their professional fee. With so much at stake these advisors fully expect potential clients to “vet” them thoroughly before allocating assets.

Today, questions about back office processes and reporting, not to mention marketing and business development strategy, are almost as common as queries about investments and performance.  Financial services companies of all kinds are turning to social and digital media experts to help them build lasting relationships and enhance client acquisition.

So why wouldn’t firms evaluate and vet these social media advisors just as carefully as they would those who make decisions about what to do with the money? These companies need to make sure that they are themselves asking the right questions.

In deciding who can be trusted with your reputation, it’s wise to consider past experience, qualifications and noteworthy successes. This is complicated by the fact that “social media marketing” is a relatively new field. So just who exactly is a social media expert? Let’s start with who it’s not.

Except in the rarest of cases, a social media expert is not an intern. This especially true for businesses hoping to engage UHNW/HNW and other sophisticated clients and prospects. While it’s true that college students and recent graduates often have strong computer skills and familiarity with social media platforms, most simply do not have the depth of subject matter knowledge needed to sustain a winning campaign. And is it really fair to ask an intern to be responsible for managing a firm’s brand reputation, legal and compliance requirements and client confidentiality concerns?

Former financial advisors are also usually not ideal social media experts. However, many wealth managers apply the flawed logic that “financial advisor” + “social media presence” = “social media marketing strategist for financial advisors.”

Keeping pace with social media innovation is a full-time undertaking. Though they might have an interest or affinity for social media interaction, most lack the real skills and experience needed to execute a targeted and effective marketing program. This does not mean that they should not be actively involved.

At its most effective, a social media platform is both engaging and inclusive. So how does a company manage the process without discouraging participation? This is where a true social media expert can really add value. An in-depth knowledge of digital media strategies and tools allows these professionals to identify the right blend of organizational and external resources – from temporary staffing to executive training – to build and maintain a successful program.