Yesterday, we ran the first part of this profile on advisor Dan Dillard. He works at Amplify Federal Credit Union in Austin, Texas and has begun using video as a way to reach clients. It began as a half-day series called “Financial Boot Camp” and helped him increase AUM from $10 million to $75 million.
With his new firm, Vidcast Media, financial advisor Dan Dillard was soon taping his classes. They were still run as traditional classes as well, but the highlights were offered on four- to seven-minute video features.
Dillard’s next idea was to develop a program that puts an icon on the client’s or teller’s computer screen which blinks when a new “vidcast” is available. The viewer clicks on the icon, and, in the case of a client, may also get a report on the state of the market. Or, if it’s a teller, the latest training video—usually a short two-or three-minute video on topics like college planning, estate planning or how to do a successful referral. Both client and teller videos typically include a pop-up question that encourages feedback. “As soon as a training video ends, it asks the viewer: What clients does this apply to?’” says Dillard. “That gets them to respond and to think about all their clients.” Successful referrals, he adds, earn a teller a $20 bonus.
LPL, the broker dealer, is interested in Dillard’s entrepreneurial venture, and the company is exploring ways in which it can make it available to other advisors. “Using videos to reach clients and tellers and to reach all of a bank’s branches at once offers tremendous benefits to both the advisors and the institution,” says Dillard. “When you try to go visit tellers individually, besides taking a huge amount of time, he notes that “half the time, the person you need to see isn’t even there.”
Dillard now has an in-house videographer, and even brings in actors for the training videos. “A lot of work goes into this,” he says. Then there is the process of getting approval for each video from LPL’s compliance department, so it can be used by other organizations “It’s an investment right now,” he says, noting that the programs are still being beta tested at Amplify, “but this will be a moneymaker for me eventually.”
In addition to the teller-training videos, Dillard is also developing client retention software which allows for regular videos to selected clients. It just went through beta testing on 30 of Dillard’s top clients.
"What we find is that being able to touch clients more often with news and with a visual representation of me as the advisor, really strengthens the relationship. Just putting a face on your information has contributed significantly to our business growth.” Indeed, Dillard’s 2012 production was $1.2 million, up $500,000 from the year before, most of which gain he attributes to the new video programs—both for clients and for tellers. “The only thing we did differently in 2012 was adding the videos,” he says.
In the case of client videos, production is much simpler. Dillard says he just hits a button and talks into his computer, using the computer’s built-in videocam and mic. “The software we have developed allows me to talk and to upload video. Eventually other advisors could do their own intros.” Again clients have icons on their desktops that flash when there is a new video. “It can be anything from a report on where the market is, to an individualized message like ‘Happy Birthday!,’” he says.
Dillard says, “This is a huge time saver. Before, when I wanted to send a message to 30 clients, I had to write 30 messages, or make 30 phone calls. Now I just record one vidcast. And that’s just with 30 clients. If I have to contact 500, it’s a much bigger savings. And looking at it competitively, if I can just do one thing better in communicating with my clients than the competition, I’ll be ahead.”
The plan for compliance is to contract with an online live journaling firm that flags for problem keywords like “annuity” or “free,” he says, adding that there will be a “back door” to allow each broker-dealer using Vidcast Media’s software to customize their compliance effort.
When Vidcast Media completes its beta testing, Dillard says it will be able to offer a set of 15 training videos for advisors to use with tellers at a cost of about $100 per branch. The advisor video communication with clients will also be available soon, he says, adding that Vidcast Media is beta testing it this spring with two LPL credit unions.