These days, it seems like a new social media site pops up each week. From Facebook and LinkedIn to Twitter and Naymze, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference, much less know which one is best for building your business. Now, FINRA has further confused you, with new regulations that make it even more difficult to know what you can and can’t do with social media.
One site I’ve come across recently is LinkedFA. My colleague, senior editor Donna Mitchell wrote about the site when it was launched in January.
This site claims to be the first social networking site specifically catered to financial advisors. Is it? I’m not sure. Is it the best out there? I’m not an expert to say. But after taking an extensive look through the site, it certainly seems like another option to look into when considering how to integrate social media into your marketing plan, one that may make your compliance task easier. Here’s a little bit of what I’ve learned about the site so far.
Q: What is LinkedFA?
A: LinkedFA is designed for financial advisors to market their practices based around the idea that more contact with clients equals happier clients and, therefore, a more successful practice (enter in the assumption that happy clients not only provide more wallet share but also refer their friends). It is a business-only social media network, meaning all those crossover problems that occur on Facebook and Twitter (your nephew posting an embarrassing picture of you, for instance) won’t happen here.
Here’s how it works: When you sign up for the site, you can then invite your clients to join your network by entering in or uploading your clients’ contact information either through Outlook, Entourage, Act or various other CRMs. If this seems like a bit of a nuisance, you can use LinkedFA’s “live chat” feature, and a representative can upload them for you.
Once you have built your network, you can then share information with your clients, answer their questions and send them newsletters, prospectuses or educational material. You can even segment this off. For instance, if you have a group of clients who are invested in a specific fund, you can send only that group of clients the prospectus for that fund. Or, you could have a new client form that is standard for all new clients that is sent only to clients that recently joined the practice. The client could then fill out the information and either email or fax it back to you, or even re-upload it to your profile.
Q: LinkedFA says it’s FINRA-compliant. But is it really any different than other social networking sites?
A: The answer here is: Yes, for now. LinkedFA claims to be compliant with the current FINRA Regulations. That said, though, it is unclear how LinkedFA will respond to future regulation requirements—either by FINRA or the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But the site is definitely doing some neat things that truly can take the headache of compliance out of social media (the main reason advisors claim for not integrating social media into their marketing plan). For instance, one section of FINRA’s 10-06 Rule requires all representative communication be stored for at least six years. LinkedFA adheres to this requirement, storing all communication you have with anyone on the site for six years.
Q: So how do I acquire that information to help me?
A: You can get customized compliance reports that encompass all the communication you had with one client, a group of clients or all of your clients. You can also customize the report by timeframe. This information is then exported and sent to you in a PDF document that includes every piece of communication you have had with the specified subject—whether they be comments, conversations, documents, pictures or video—which includes the content, date and time of that communication. This PDF can then be forwarded on to, say, a compliance officer, firm principal or even a client.
Q: Can’t LinkedFA just send the compliance report to my compliance officer automatically?
A: Right now, it can’t. While LinkedFA’s vice president of business development, Stephen Prosser, says the company is currently working on a feature that will allow you to add a third-party email address to the report request, as of today you must forward on the report yourself.
Q: Can anyone make a comment on my profile, like on Facebook?
A: Nope, no worries about the “crazy client inside joke” here. Anything posted on your wall or to your profile must first be confirmed by you before it becomes available for anyone to see.
Now that you know a little bit about this new site, try it out for yourself. Take a look around, and see if it’s for you. No promises here, just a few more suggestions to getting your mind on social media—and your practice back on track!