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Advisors Graze At Financial Websites

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Here’s an eye-catcher: Over half of advisors (nearly 60 percent) consider websites to be their primary media source for work-related information. This is from a new Cogent Reports poll.

The provocative word there is “primary.” This suggests that advisors are gathering much of their financial food from websites they visit regularly. Presumably they digest and use some or much of this food, so websites may be having a bigger-than-previously-thought influence in advisor lives and thinking.

By comparison, just 12 percent said television is the information source they rely on most. Since the percentage for TV is so small, we’ll let that pass here and go back to the main financial food.

That the majority of advisors views websites as its primary media source for work-related information is not all that surprising. After all, advisors regularly use the Internet to get information from the financial providers and services they use in the course of their daily work. Since they are already on the Net, it takes just a click to hop over to some media websites for a financial update or two.

Of greater interest is that most (87 percent) of the 400 surveyed advisors named at least one “financial or business website” to be among the five sites they visit most frequently.

What might those “financial or business websites” be? According to Cogent Reports, the sites include Yahoo Finance (21 percent), Morningstar (18 percent), Bloomberg (16 percent), CNBC (16 percent), Wall Street Journal (15 percent), MarketWatch (10 percent), MSN Money (10 percent) and Google Finance (10 percent).

All eight are big national brands. They cover broad business trends as well as the U.S. financial services industry, especially securities (with some insurance and banking content blended in).

Since the advisors selected for this survey were financial advisors — i.e., those with an active book of business of $5 million or more and providing investment advice/planning on a fee or transactional basis — these website preferences make sense. Financial advisors would naturally graze on websites with a financial services orientation. Some of their clients may go to those sites too, so checking in there might be a matter of enlightened self-interest as well.

Apparently, though, advisors are not fixated on any particular website. For instance, although the percentage of advisors visiting Yahoo Finance (21 percent) is double the percentage visiting Google Finance (10 percent), neither site has captured the majority share of advisors surveyed.

This use of multiple media sites could be contributing to deepening advisor awareness of issues and solutions, giving advisors more professional prowess. But it may also be contributing to the divergent views in the advisor ranks over annuities, asset allocation, fees, etc., thus ramping up confusion in the marketplace. More research is needed to help illuminate these and other possible influences.

For now, the takeaway is that many financial advisors are consuming work-related information on websites, including several national brand business media websites. Presumably this is in addition to consuming information provided by their firms, distributors and product providers.

Knowing this, those who work with, or compete against, financial advisors may find it advantageous to nibble at those the websites too. This is still a knowledge-based economy, after all, so getting the skinny on info sources used by colleagues and competitors is a critical business strategy.

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Linda Koco, MBA, is a contributing editor to InsuranceNewsNet, specializing in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Connect with Linda →

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