Financial planners have traditionally managed physical wealth of their clients that includes real estate, business ownership, movable property (cars, for instance) and cash. But with a growing clientele that owns digital assets like websites, software programs and digital content (like photos and videos), the scope of wealth managed by financial planners has increased as well. As with physical assets management, the ownership of digital assets is also complicated by contracts and agreements that your client may have signed with other stakeholders. Please note that nothing in this article may be construed as legal advice. Readers are advised to consult their own attorneys for legal advice.
Content creators are the de factor owners of all digital content, including photos and videos. However, the equation may change depending on where this content is hosted. A photo that is shared on a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter may still retain the content creator as the owner. However, the act of submitting the content to these platforms may provide these third party entities a free license to financially benefit from this content in any way. Not only do the platforms themselves get the right to use these photos, the terms and conditions of usage may also make it okay for other users to share and use your photo in any way that they may deem fit.
The role of a financial planner in this case should be to identify the opportunity cost of sharing content and identify the middle path. A client in the photography business may be advised to reserve a 10-15% of their content for social media promotional purposes while retaining complete ownership and licensing rights on the rest. It may also be pointed out that the expenses incurred in the production of these content assets and the potential loss of income from the promotion of these photos on social media may be written off for tax purposes.
Consolidating Your Digital Wealth
Digital assets, especially content like images and videos, are voluminous and it may be difficult to monitor and manage all such content for an enterprise client. Investing in a digital asset management tool allows a financial planner to consolidate all the wealth and prepare a monetization strategy. At the same time, a DAM provides the client with the necessary tools to manage these assets. This includes setting clear usage guidelines, streamlining processes and collaborating on its usage.
Creating A Monetization Plan
As a financial planner, it is important to create a monetization plan for assets like website source codes, domain names and content. A recurring income stream (through licensing and leases) is ideally preferred over outright sale of such content to interested buyers. This way, your clients can build a more sustainable and predictable income stream. However, this advice is not universally applicable. For instance, consider a domain name like ‘HillaryForPrez.com’ – such an asset may have had significant value in the run up to the US Presidential elections last year but may have no value now. In such cases, it is a good idea for a planner to recommend the sale of these assets when the interest levels are high and then reinvest the proceeds in other digital or physical assets.