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How a Social Network Helps Advisors Attract Clients with Good Ideas

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Could a digital platform geared specifically toward connecting advisors with clients seeking investment ideas -- SEC and FINRA compliant to boot -- improve upon the potential of social media?

The founders of Houston-based Harvest Exchange stake its appeal as one part content provider and one part marketplace for directly sourced knowledge and ideas from wealth managers.

Since its launch two years ago, the platform has more than 200,000 users, including nearly 25,000 advisors.  There are over 7,000 investment firms represented on the platform, ranging from Blackrock to RIAs such as Salient.  Harvest Exchange, the public community, it free to join. Advisors can apply for a verified profile, and for a fee can be discovered by potential clients as well as establish their own private, branded communities through Harvest’s software. With the smaller advisor in mind, pricing starts at $9 a month for a member of an advisor’s private community and declines with scale. 

Peter Hans, co-founder and CEO of Harvest, spoke with Re: Invent|Wealth about the value of getting good content in front of clients.

How does your platform cater to financial advisors?

No one wants to be sold anything. If you can create a platform that is fully compliant where you can effectively educate your clients and target clients on who you are, what you stand for, what problems you solve for, then you can allow them to find and better connect with you so that those potential leads are more educated and far more warm when they reach you.

How do you bring financial advisors and their clients together?

I’m someone who’s spent 15 years on Wall Street and I can call any investment firm to get great insight. However, the general public can’t do that and they can’t find that online, especially directly sourced from an asset manager or a financial advisor. When you can democratize that information, potential clients are associating that expertise with a specific brand or a specific individual.

Your platform is often likened to other social media platforms like LinkedIn. How is Harvest Exchange different?

Our goal is to give people a fully compliant means of communication and to be a discovery tool for information, firms, and brands you’re not already connected to. When you share on LinkedIn or Facebook, you share with people you already know and are connected with. In Harvest, it’s the opposite. You want to share content with people who you aren’t connected with and who you don’t know so that they can discover you.

If an advisor publishes something on their views on interest rates, potential clients may like what they’re saying, and they want to know more about the advisor, or they may want more exclusive content, or to engage further in a discussion. Our software creates customized call to action buttons to have interested clients connect with wealth managers.

How does putting another technology between an advisor and their client help strengthen their communication and deepen their interaction?

Investing and asset management is an extremely personal and social business. There’s a lot of trust involved. In order to scale and grow into the future, you need to leverage technology, but maintain that personal aspect. The way we do that is we license the technology to advisors, and say, 'Create your own branded community, with your users, your data, and your content.' This is a means of having a one-to-one, or one-to-many, means of communication and document dissemination, as well as having valuable data on the backend to see which clients are engaging, what pieces of content they are reading and what products they are interested in.

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