Social media and the growth of financial advisory firms are inextricably linked, according to the Financial Planning Association.

Sixty-seven percent of advisors see a direct or indirect link between social media activity and acquiring new business, while 30 percent do not see any connection, FPA says. Advisors want to deliver thought leadership via social media, according to a study released Tuesday entitled Communication Evolution: Financial Professionals and the Future of Thought Leadership and Social Media.

“In today’s fast-paced, technologically advanced world, advisors who are not embracing social media and more dynamic ways of engaging their clients and prospects are going to lag behind those practitioners and firms that are,” says FPA President Edward W. Gjertsen II. “As a financial planner, I know that those I work with expect that I will help them better understand their finances and their financial decisions. While social media and online content can be an avenue of brand development for many advisers, too many are unsure how to approach it so it will not be onerous and lead to real results.”

The study was conducted by LinkedIn and the FPA Research and Practice Institute, a research entity of FPA. It included 1,242 financial advisors and 1,021 consumers, who use financial advisors and make or contribute to the financial decisions of the household. The survey found that clients want more education from their advisors: 76 percent say it is somewhat important or critical to their relationship with their advisor.

While fewer than 5 percent of clients used professional or social networks to find their current adviser, 21 percent say professional and social networks will be important going forward. That number doubles for those clients under the age of 45. Similarly, 33 percent of clients age 65 or older use LinkedIn, but usage nearly doubles to 62 percent among those clients in the 18-to-44-age bracket.

Advisors use different professional and social networks to meet different objectives. LinkedIn is seen primarily as a way to find new relationships, Facebook to maintain and deepen relationships and Twitter to listen and learn from others, the survey says. While many advisors cite compliance restrictions as the reason they do not use social media, almost as many say they are unsure how to use the networks effectively, or they do not feel they are appropriate for business.

“The study draws an important connection between the drivers of client engagement and communications strategies that will help advisors stand out from the crowd,” says Julie Littlechild, president of If Not Now Research, which conducted the study.