Paranoia is not such a bad thing according to ANZ Chief Executive Mike Smith. Particularly as there is both a “threat and an opportunity” in the current era of digitalisation which he calls as ‘significant as the industrial revolution’.

“I think the banks that get this right are really going to benefit enormously – because then you can access markets you couldn’t before.”

Financial services is essentially about counting your money – accounting for what is it doing, and what it can do. For all the consumer friendly advertising campaigns, these financial institutions and managers are more about keeping the personal contact with their clients to a minimum. An annual earnings statement is best. It is not in their interest to show how they manage your investments or portfolio – you might ask too many questions. Social contact is reduced to stock PR mantras: ‘we are rock solid’, and ‘trust us’.

If you are a financial business wanting to actually engage with your customers, find out what they want, let them know what you can do for them – sell your product – then you want to join the social media theatre where the performers and the audience all mix together.

Recent figures in the Isentia Social Media Report shows that 25% of all online time in Australia is spent on social media, that’s 15 in every 60 minutes. Facebook dominates with 58% market penetration. It is not just about the kids organizing their social lives, it goes beyond a generation silos. Business’s big and small now recognise the value of having a presence on Facebook.

The Isentia figures show that the largest and fasted growing demographic in social media is the over 50s – with just over 30% using social media, close to double any other age group, and it is growing. They are not just using it to monitor or keep up with goings-on of their children and grandchildren.

One example is revealing: One third of Australia’s superannuation is held in self-managed super funds, and a clear majority of fund trustees are well over 50 years old. For the most part, these funds are run by mum and dad partnerships, all looking to improve their retirement funds. They have become their own self-supporting, professional investment class, and quick adopters of technology and new media to monitor their assets.

They are also inheriting the social media values of later generations – they want to be able to do it remotely, either at home or on the road in the mobile home, they want access to their investments and answers to their queries in real time, they want greater transparency so it easy to understand the daily progress of their investments. Bring on the pie charts.

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