When it comes to financial planning advice in the social media arena, less is almost always more. Here's what wealth managers need to do (and not do) to service their clients while staying within the regulatory boundaries.

From Financial Industry Regulatory Authority annual conference:


• Use your Facebook timeline to tell a rich story about your company and how it has developed, from its start. Use imagery, not just text.

• Use Twitter (and Facebook) as customer service channels, particularly in emergencies or crises.

• Test run how you will use Twitter and Facebook, in case of a trading system outage or Web site failure.

• Test run worst case scenarios. What if your Facebook page gets hacked? How do you regain control?

• Use middleware service to archive all Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media communications.

• Budget, carefully. Compliance costs are significant. Staffing costs are significant. Decide how far you want to go.

• Get all needed parties involved. Legal. Business. PR. Marketing. Compliance. Information security. Information technology. Human resources.

• Use analytics provided by the sites. You can figure out the industry and functions of visitors to LinkedIn, for instance.

• Keep at it for six months. Then start to measure.

• Train, train, train. Managers, employees, everyone.

• Preview what you can.

• Supervise what you can’t.

• Establish procedures for interaction.

• Follow them. Keep track of how you did follow them.

• Find a teenager. Watch how he or she is communicating. Next year: Find a different one.


• Use Twitter to communicate about products. There’s no room for disclosure statements.

• Allow the “recommend” feature to stay in use on LinkedIn. If one of your advisors or employees recommends someone, it can be construed as a marketing recommendation and subject to regulatory review. It’s a testimonial.

• Put a social media site reference into the signature block of your e-mail messages. That will be considered “business communications” and subject to review.

• Ditto on business cards. Keep off the social media links.

• Send links in tweets, unless pre-approved. If it’s to a site with constantly changing content, like wsj.com, it’s probably okay. But to a specific article? Be careful.

• Get involved in any other forms of recommendations. If you retweet someone else’s recommendation, you’re still probably responsible for it.

• Rush into creating apps. Make sure you know who owns the data.

• Get agitated by complaints. Use them as conversion opportunities. Listen. Respond.

• Get too fancy. Make it easy for both the socially savvy and socially unsavvy visitors.

• Make operations complicated. Your advisors and employees may not be technically oriented.

• Forget. Once it’s out there, you can’t pull it back.

SOURCES: Panels on “Social Media Compliance,’’ “Social Media Implementation” and “ Social Media Networking Trends and Developments.’’

Tom Steinert-Threlkeld writes for Securities Technology Monitor.