Word is, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MSSB) is allowing all its financial advisers to participate in Twitter and LinkedIn. Last year, it announced plans to open social media use to its advisers. The first step of the plan was to allow 600 advisers to use Twitter and LinkedIn in some capacity-now the firm's roughly 17,000 financial advisers will be able to use the social-media sites. Lauren Boyman, MSSB's director of social media said that during the pilot program, LinkedIn helped advisers win more business.
Though MSSB has instituted controls in excess of those required by the SEC and FINRA, I believe this is still a large step in the right direction and other brokerage firms should be moving in the same direction. Acknowledging the balancing act between the benefits of social media to its brokers and the potential compliance concerns, MSSB moves forward with a strategy in place. By offering their brokers social medial training, MSSB is taking the correct precautionary steps that will, in the end, enable their brokers to build their brand and their reputations via social media.
To use LinkedIn, MSSB advisers must create a profile and receive compliance training. Once they've done this, they may use all of LinkedIn's functions-from requesting an introduction to search features to joining groups. MSSB will train advisers to target potential clients taking advantage of LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers.
Though advisers will have relatively unlimited access to LinkedIn, MSSB is requiring advisors to use their Twitter accounts to tweet canned messages. FINRA doesn't require pre-approval of tweets, but MSSB, at least for now, is requiring advisors to choose their tweets from a library of preapproved messages that often include links to research or videos. It's been reported, MSSB started a pilot program allowing a small group of 20 advisors to write and publish their own tweets. We'll have to wait to see how this goes and whether the program is expanded to the entire workforce.
Regardless, I'm glad to see MSSB making efforts to move into the social media world and enable its brokers to take advantage of all it offers. What do you think?