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So our lives and the ways we make choices – from picking hotels and dining spots to dentists and attorneys – have changed.

Want to find the restaurant serving the best steak or the clothing shop with the best-fitting jeans? It's all online, as open and transparent as you'd ever imagined, with ratings, reviews, and the ability to engage with like- minded consumers.

And yet, these changes haven't yet happened in the financial industry. Rest assured: They will. Regulators already have made efforts to define what financial professionals and others in the industry can do with social media. The gates are opening, and the financial world is starting to pass through. First, a trickle, then most of the herd.

The pace is already quickening; nearly 70 percent of wealthy investors have reallocated investments or began or altered relationships with investment providers based on content found through social media, according to a survey conducted by Cogent Research of 4,000 investors with more than $100,000 in investable assets.[1] See Figure 5.2.

Some advisors are sensing that the social universe has made reviews and ratings critical. In the brokerage industry, someone's reputation is their

Who Uses Social Networking Sites?

FIGURE 5.1 Who Uses Social Networking Sites?

Source: Pew Research Center's Internet Project Library Survey 2013

hallmark; how well someone behaves in meeting a customer's needs and meeting their best interests is critical.

What are the implications of empowered investors? For one, it means that they'll become even less attentive to those multimillion-dollar ad campaigns and more attentive to their social networks. Just as we've been able to aggregate the opinions about restaurants and hotels, so, too, will we be aggregating opinions about financial professionals and products.

Content Found on Social Media Impacts Investors' Decisions

FIGURE 5.2 Content Found on Social Media Impacts Investors' Decisions

Source: Cogent Research

  • [1] “Cogent Research: Now Trending – Social Media Fuels Investor Decision Making,”, June 3, 2014.
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