Financial advisors who have not caught on to using social media just got a big push to do so this week after Advisor Group launched a social media effort to allow its independent advisors market themselves with the tools.

Using SunGard’s Protegent Social Media Surveillance, the company will manage supervisory regulatory requirements, enforce internal policies around social media use, and monitor and archive advisors’ content posted to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The initiative calls for much more than looking over its advisors’ shoulders and offering hints at what they can and cannot say, according to company officials.

“We are going to give them an abundance of resources,” Art Metzger, vice president of advertising and supervision, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. Mandatory training on social media use starts on July 11, Metzger said.

Yes, the tutorials are mandatory, and advisors’ immediate first-line supervisors must also complete them.

“Advisors need to have the basics down,” Metzger said. “It is an online course. After the training, they can move to the next step in establishing their social media accounts.”

The independent broker-dealer, based in New York, wanted something homegrown and less convoluted compared with some of the other systems it had explored, Metzger said.

To that end, it created templates to help advisors build their social media profiles. Advisors who are already pilot testing the social media tools can find them on the Vision2020 Advisor Portal. After advisors complete the form, Advisor Group will review it and either approve it or kick it back to advisors to implement changes.

On July 18, Advisor Group will activate a single sign-on website that allows access to a breadth of resources, including the VISION2020 Wealth Management system, client account information, office automation, compliance and marketing tools. “They’ll get a message saying the site is ready,” Metzger said. “We have a very robust manual about using the dashboard.”

There is also screening and alerting function on the Protegent Social Media Surveillance solution. When advisors create a tweet or status update, the messages go through a review function, Metzger said. If the message needs to be changed, the message is returned to the advisor for editing. If the message meets approval, then it is automatically pushed out onto the advisors’ social media message board. 

Advisor Group’s 4,800-plus independent advisors have many new options in front of them and are not boxed in to whatever screening or pre-approved marketing prompts Advisor Group will provide, said Metzger.

“However an advisor chooses to market him or herself is completely voluntary,” he said. “The requests from the field had been growing for this.”