CHANDLER, ARIZ. - Ninety percent of advisors said they aren’t doing enough to market and publicize their practice effectively, according to a survey by Peak Advisor Alliance.

According to the survey of 170 advisors that work with the Omaha, Neb., based practice management coaching firm, advisors need to do more to build and market their business. Forty percent said the top challenge that they face is generating new business and 15% said their biggest challenge is differentiating themselves in a crowded market.

“You are different, each one of you is different,” Steve Sanduski, the managing partner at Peak, told a room full of advisors at the company’s Excell Meeting on Thursday. “You need to do something to show you different to make people come do business with you.”

One potential tool for advisors is social media, but only 52% of advisors surveyed said that they thought social media was a tool that could help them with marketing. Forty-percent admitted that they weren’t sure.

Forty-eight percent of advisors surveyed said that they view social media as a compliance risk, but 48% said they think FINRA is overreacting to the use of social media by advisors.

Sanduski said Peak, in conjunction with Cognito, is in the process of developing a training and compliance-friendly technology platform to help advisors work with social media.

“Social media is here to stay, it is not going away,” he said. “The players may change at some point, but it isn’t going away. The players change, but the evolution and revolution is going forward. This is the next generation is going to communicate. They are going to be well-versed in this type of communication so we need to be well-versed.”

Despite the economic downturn, 55% of the advisors surveyed said that they hired staff in the past three years. Sanduski said that this was really exciting.

“We are reinvesting back into our business, as some competitors exited or cut expenses, more than half of our members were reinvesting and hiring staff,” he said.

According to the survey, 46% said that they generated their top clients from a referral, and 18% said they generated it through a referral from a business associate, such as a certified public accountant, or a lawyer.