Why Do So Many Independent Broker-Dealers Still Restrict Affiliated Advisors From Using Social Media When Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Allows Its Brokers To Use Twitter And LinkedIn?

Thursday, May 26, 2011 13:26
Why Do So Many Independent Broker-Dealers Still Restrict Affiliated Advisors From Using Social Media When Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Allows Its Brokers To Use Twitter And LinkedIn?

Tags: marketing | Social Media


Acting before most independent broker/dealers, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney is now allowing its brokers to use Twitter and LinkedIn for marketing, which tells you how behind the times many BDs are.

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In becoming the first of the wirehouses to okay the use of LinkedIn and Twitter by its brokers (and with Facebook reportedly soon to be approved for use), Morgan Stanley embarrasses the independent BDs not permitting the use of social media by independent advisors.
Social media marketing is here to stay. It’s not a fad. While advisors are being victimized by hype and overpriced consulting services about the effectiveness of social media marketing, financial planners, investment advisors, and wealth managers unquestionably should make LinkedIn and Twitter part of their strategic marketing plans.
Yet so many independent broker/dealers remain in the dark ages and have not permitted registered representatives they supervise to utilize social media marketing.
For independent broker/dealers to trail wirehouses brokers in enabling their reps to use social media is disconcerting.  
Wirehouses are stodgy and old fashioned. They restrict financial advisors in so many ways. Independent B/Ds are supposed to enable their advisors to reps to take advantage of new innovations and be more limber than wirehouses.  
There seems little excuse for an independent broker dealer to move more slowly than Morgan Stanley in enabling adoption of social media marketing by their financial advisors. 
Tools for supervising compliance of social media content posted by advisors and their clients exist. For instance, Actiance, Hearsay Social, and Socialware make compliance of social media manageable for FINRA-regulated broker/dealers.
Independent broker/dealers have an opportunity to help their advisors find ways to use social media in productive ways. Social media can be used to educate clients and prospects about financial issues.
Independent B/Ds are well positioned to pick a social media compliance solution and build a network of vendors that can help to support the needs of their reps. They just need to do some research and build relationships with vendors that can show their advisors how to create effective social media content, who to make social media content into a win-win for advisors and clients.
Independent advisors have chosen to go independent because they want to do imaginative work and to have the freedom to practice the way they want.
As someone who loves the notion of a financial advisor being an independent entrepreneur free to build a professional services business in his own image, it is disconcerting to know that a wirehouse now allows its brokers to use of social media marketing while so many independent broker/dealers continue to severely restrict social media marketing by their advisors.


Comments (1)

The answer to your question is simple - Rule 2210.

The wirehouses have an advantage over the indies: they control almost all aspects of their reps' lives. They have to come to a company-owned and controlled office. They cannot get many websites on their workstations. Whatever they try to do at work is monitored and, in most cases, controlled. It was not long ago that an operations officer read EVERY email sent out by a rep. For all I know, some of them still do.
Independents do not have that kind of control. Their advisors own their own computers and their own offices. Compelling independent advisors (exactly because of their entrepreneurial nature) to go through another application with delays and controls, rather than straight to something like Twitter directly, is a challenge. And, in this environment of hypersensitive regulators, that poses a huge risk to the broker dealers.
I don't think the independent firms are avoiding social media because they are not forward thinking. To the extent that they are hesitant, I think it more because of the well-established concerns over the ease with which violations can occur.
stephenw585 , May 27, 2011

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