WASHINGTON – The Financial Services Institute launched an online social community on Tuesday modeled in part on LinkedIn and aimed at allowing advisors to network and connect privately.

While the institute has considerable broker-dealer support, the new community, called FSI Social, “is a no-recruiting zone,” FSI Chief Executive Dale Brown told advisors at the organization’s inaugural Financial Advisor Summit in Washington, D.C. “You can network with your peers” and connect in online forums without broker-dealers monitoring the activity, Brown pledged.

The channel on the FSI website allows advisors to import their LinkedIn profiles and prominently features privacy settings. There is a separate channel for firm executives.

The community will fill a gap for advisors, said FSI Senior Vice President Chris Paulitz. “They don’t feel that LinkedIn is enough for them, they don’t feel that social networks that they’ve seen around bring the whole industry together.”


FSI also launched a redesigned website that aims to showcase its advocacy efforts and plans to release a new app in about a month.

“Everything was elevated greatly in a few years,” Paulitz crowed – pointing to a doubling in membership to about 35,000 and a sharp increase in advocacy – “except for our online presence,” he said. “It was clear that was the one thing that had not kept pace.” Rather than just tweak, Paulitz added, “We nuked our website.”

The relaunched website includes details on about 350 regulatory initiatives on a state-by-state basis, including 70 focused on social media that often conflict with FINRA regulations, according to Paulitz. FSI has been battling efforts that could impose new regulations on advisors, particularly a fiduciary standard requirement that the institute says could prevent advisors from providing even routine guidance on IRAs.

“Our members understand the value of advocacy and our fight for a healthier, more business-friendly regulatory environment,” Brown said. “These new member benefits we are unveiling today will further enhance the value of advocacy and help them grow their businesses.”

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