Compliance makes social networking tougher for registered reps than RIAs

Here’s a guest post by Bill Winterberg, CFP®, an operations and efficiency guru to independent financial advisers, who blogs at FP Pad. He made me realize that RIAs have more leeway than registered reps when it comes to social networking.

Websites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs present compliance issues for registered representatives subject to FINRA regulations. All reps must obtain approval from the broker/dealer compliance department before posting anything on the Internet, as postings a considered advertisements.

FINRA has published guidelines for use of the Internet by registered representatives of broker/dealers. It’s worth reading if you are affiliated with a broker/dealer.

The SEC has similar guidelines that govern advertisements, including postings to public Internet forums. However, investment advisers are generally responsible for self-supervision by Chief Compliance Officers. In my opinion, investment advisers not subject to FINRA regulations have quite a bit more flexibility when using Internet and social networking websites. See and

RIAs definitely have more flexibility over registered reps when it comes to the use of the Internet. However, common sense must always prevail when using the Internet to avoid publishing security recommendations or any testimonial, which are explicitly prohibited by the SEC and state regulatory authorities.

"Convert Website Visitors into Leads"

You should use a strong call to action to convert website visitors into leads for your business, according to “Strong Call to Action – Convert Website Visitors into Leads” on the Hubspot website. If visitors give you their contact information, they’re one step closer to becoming clients.

Hubspot advises you to:

  1. Keep it Simple.
  2. Make it Obvious.
  3. Most Important: Make it Valuable.

For example, I observe these rules on my website by:

  1. Saying simply “Receive My E-newsletter!” on my sign-up box 
  2. Placing the sign-up box in the upper right-hand corner of every page of my website
  3. Offering value by providing a monthly e-newsletter

How could you apply these tips to your website? If you’re an investment manager, consider offering an email subscription to your investment commentary.

Financial planning firm benefits from Twitter

Are you struggling to figure out how Twitter micro-blogging can help you as a financial advisor?

In “Yes, Twitter Can Help Financial Planners,” Bill Winterberg blogs about how using Twitter helped his firm do a better job of ensuring their tax loss harvesting is executed without errors.

Twitter brought him a solution to a pesky challenge in an Excel spreadsheet. It was a problem he’d unsuccessfully tried to resolve by Googling. Then he sent out an appeal for help via Twitter–and got his solution within a day.

Related posts:

Vanguard is using LinkedIn

John Ameriks of The Vanguard Group has posted a question on LinkedIn that’s running under a Vanguard banner.

Plenty of financial professionals post questions on LinkedIn, but this is the first time I’ve seen one running under an advertisement. Click on the banner, and you go to the Vanguard home page.

Will we see more mutual fund company advertising like this?

Have you seen other examples of fund companies trying to leverage social networking?

How effective are efforts like this?

Can financial advisors write blogs and be in compliance?

An Investment Writing blog reader recently asked, “I was told that licensed financial advisors are not allowed to write blogs as far as compliance is concerned. Is this true?”

It’s not true. But there are constraints.

For more details on the regulatory constraints, read “Finra, SEC rules constrain advisers in blogosphere” by Davis Janowski in Investment News.

You can find links to blogs by some financial advisors in the related posts listed below. 

Related posts:


"LinkedIn’s Little Secret: It’s a Great Lead-Gen Tool"

You can use LinkedIn to help build your investment or wealth management business. Adapt the techniques suggested in “LinkedIn’s Little Secret: It’s a Great Lead-Gen Tool” on HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog.

But, first, pay attention to this warning from HubSpot: 

“Trying to directly message or reach out to your LinkedIn network or contacts could be considered spam. Please be sure that: 1) people you try to contact want to hear from you and 2) your message is relevant.”

Suggestion #1: “Create a LinkedIn Group” on a theme related to your industry. As I see it, as long as you offer something of value to group members, you can use a LinkedIn Group to position yourself as an expert in a niche and/or to expand your network. A LinkedIn Group can  keep you in front of clients, prospects, and people who can send you referrals.

Suggestion #2: “Use LinkedIn’s DirectAds” for targeted advertising. I’m not an ad expert, but it seems to me that you’d probably pursue other advertising options first. This might be a nice add-on.

Suggestion #3: “Answer Questions on LinkedIn.” This displays your expertise, plus you get an emotional boost from helping others. So far, I’ve gotten more benefit from asking questions on LinkedIn, another HubSpot suggestion. My questions have yielded valuable information and quotes for blog posts.

Suggestion #4: “Integrate LinkedIn into Your Marketing.” For example, suggests HubSpot, whenever you speak, invite your audience to join your group. It’s an easy way to build on the connection that you form during your time with your audience. 

Have you tried any of these techniques? I’d like to learn about your experiences. 

Meanwhile, reading HubSpot’s blog post got me wondering if I should create a LinkedIn Group for readers of my Investment Writing e-newsletter or for participants in the writing workshops I teach.  If you’re a newsletter reader or graduate of one of my writing workshops, what would you want from a LinkedIn group?

Related posts: 
How to publicize your white paper using LinkedIn” 
How financial advisors use LinkedIn to boost their visibility” 

"How to Craft a Blog Post" by Darren Rowse

Starting to blog without thinking about your process can be a big mistake.

Read Problogger Darren Rowse’s “How to Craft a Blog Post – 10 Crucial Points to Pause” for helpful tips. 

If you follow his advice, it may take you longer to write your blog posts, but your return on investment will increase exponentially.

Do NOT copy this wealth management firm’s navigation scheme

There’s a lot that I like about the way that a certain wealth advisory firm communicates with clients and the public. But its website navigation is terrible. It should get rid of the website frames that prevent users from going directly to content loaded on its website.

In its email notices, the firm tells me “Our latest quarterly commentary is now available on our Web site, www. [Firm], under News Room>Quarterly Overviews.

That translates into my having to click three times because of the frames. In today’s quick-fix world, many people won’t have the patience to follow through.

Website frames have other disadvantages, too, as Shirley Kaiser’s article notes. For example, they may prevent your website from being properly indexed by search engines. That makes it harder for people to find the content over which you’ve labored.

I’d like to balance my criticism with some praise. I like how the firm always relates its investment commentary to the performance of clients’ portfolios. In fact, I’ve used some of their commentary to help teach “How to Write Investment Commentary People Will Read” to portfolio managers and marketers.

Note: updated on Dec. 18, 2017.

Should stock analysts use Twitter?

If you’re an analyst, should you consider using Twitter for research?

Check out “Should Analysts Use Twitter?” by Jeremiah Owyang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, for three key questions that’ll help you decide. Basically, it depends on what industry you cover and whether the people in your industry are Twittering. To see if people are Twittering on your topic, search key words at

You may also enjoy Owyang’s post on “How crowdsourcing helps some–but not all research activities.”

Susan B. Weiner, CFA

Check out my website at or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

What the heck is Twitter?

It’s tough to keep up with all of the social networking tools and their business uses. 

One that I’ve struggled to see the value of –at least for me–is Twitter. Twitter is like a series of mini blog posts or updates, as described in the slide show on “Twitter in Plain English.” As the Twitter FAQ explains, a Twitter communication–known as a tweet–tells us what you’re doing in 140 characters or less.

What does Twitter have to do with business? Here are “50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business.

Check out the left-hand column of the FP Pad blog for an example of a financial professional’s Twitter feed.

If you really want to delve into the details of using Twitter, I’ve heard that the Twitter Fan Wiki is the website for you.

You won’t see me Twittering any time soon. 
Susan B. Weiner, CFA

Check out my website at or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved