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 April 8

by Carolina

One of the well-known problems confronting advisors who attempt to market using social media is that it’s very easy to reach the wrong audience.

You could be tweeting out jokes and memes that get widespread engagement, but that doesn’t mean you’re generating clients. It can feel like your ‘relentless marketing is paying off,’ but then when your ADV comes out, the world then learns that you haven’t actually brought any assets in the door.

Or, as Monument Wealth Management’s David Armstrong memorably put it in an August interview with Barron’s :

It’s really easy for a financial advisor to start getting hung up on your [number of] followers without really looking at A) What’s your social media strategy in terms of an audience?, and B) What is the net result of your effort? Because I feel like a lot of this social media activity that’s taking place with advisors that I see has become nothing more than this self-licking ice cream cone of advisors talking to each other. That’s great, but I don’t know if that’s generating any business.

Armstrong may have a point, insofar as he assumes that advisors are interested in advising. But quarterbacks are launching SPACs and TikTok dancers are dropping singles; why shouldn’t advisors find new ways to monetize their own modest slices of fame?

Ross Gerber, the unshy CEO of Santa Monica-based RIA Gerber Kawasaki, is attempting to do just that. After Citywire RIA learned that he is launching an active ETF with the help of AdvisorShares, Gerber told reporter Ian Wenik:

One of the things that hit me in the last six months from my own experiences on Twitter is how much engagement I get from individual investors who want to engage with somebody like me, but they’re not necessarily looking for financial planning services. We’re getting a ton of leads from people who want financial planning services, that’s all great. But it was like: What about all these other people?

The man has 140K followers, many of whom have strong opinions about him as a result of his public positions regarding Tesla shares, Dave Portnoy, and other financial hot topics. But how can Gerber monetize his perceived expertise among those who aren’t ready to fork over 1% of their money? Well, by charging 0.75% for access to his stock picks (although they’re not just his; Gerber says he will ‘crowdsource’ and ‘work with different independent analysts in each of our 10 themes,’ for what that’s worth).

We’ve seen this before. Portnoy himself is backing the VanEck ‘BUZZ’ ETF, which aims to hold stocks that are hot on social media. It’s worth pointing out that Portnoy’s giant social media platform can help create the ‘bullish sentiment’ that this ETF is scanning for, and one of the stocks held by Buzz indeed turns out to be Penn National Gaming – a stock that Portnoy is a significant holder of, thanks to the casino company’s acquisition of Portnoy’s Barstool Sports. Talk about a self-licking ice cream cone.

And we can’t conclude without mentioning Cathie Wood. Her multi-pronged content strategy has been described as ‘brilliantly devious’ by Ranjan Roy for its ability to capture investors’ imagination, keep the ARK Innovation ETF at the front of investors’ minds, and ‘hack the press’ by convincing reporters to treat stock-pumping statements as the reasoned output of disinterested analysts.

With Wood and Portnoy blazing the way, why shouldn’t Gerber have a taste? After all, he already has the name recognition and the notoriety – enough, incidentally, to get the reporters and editors of Citywire to spill our share of digital ink around his ETF’s coming launch.

This article is an extract from our weekly RIA Reads newsletter. To read it in full, click here

Original posted at citywireusa.com

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