3 Social Media Marketing Compliance Tips for Financial Advisors to Ensure that YOU Stay out of Trouble
As financial professionals, we all know that we need to have an online presence to thrive and exist in today’s world. However, due to all of the ever-changing compliance rules that we are blessed with, we must be incredibly smart about what we post on our websites, our videos, social media sites, etc.
Last week I came across a registered advisor in Utah who was recently busted (and fined $75,000) for some of his radio, digital, and social media content. Although I do not know this advisor, and I am not sure exactly what was in his content as I can only imagine it has all been taken down, we can still learn something from him.
Here are the main reasons that he was fined and suspended according to the article:
- His communications with the public included “exaggerated, unwarranted and/or misleading claims,” FINRA said
- “No matter how the advertising is presented, FINRA wants to make sure it’s fair, balanced and not misleading,” said Riefberg, former chief counsel of FINRA’s enforcement unit.
So how do you prevent and protect yourself from getting in trouble?
Follow these three golden rules:
1. Always be fair and balanced with all of your material. This might seem obvious, yet, I continue to see countless financial advisors who forget to be fair and balanced when describing certain financial products, financial plans, companies, etc. Keep in mind that it is completely okay to have a personal preference, including certain products or financial plans that you believe in over others, however you could be in hot water if you forget to list BOTH the pros AND the cons before you post anything.
A good rule of thumb is to actually list out every pro, and then every con of anything that you are discussing. I can assure you that FINRA and the SEC have yet to find a financial product that is a fit for everyone and doesn’t have any downsides or negative traits (trust me, there isn’t a perfect product or financial plan out there), so don’t be dumb enough to talk like there is one (publicly or privately).
2. Don’t EVER give investment advice. There is absolutely NO reason to EVER give any investment advice. Simply put, don’t be an idiot. This is the quickest (and dumbest) way to get your licenses yanked and get hit with a potentially hefty fine. Stay away from even gray areas of investment advice.
3. Be able to back up every single thing that you ever write or post. The rule of thumb here is pretty simple. ALWAYS BE HONEST.
There is no reason to mislead or stretch the truth. Many people are already skeptical of financial professionals anyways, so you can actually stick out in a positive way by being so blatantly truthful that people start to notice you.
Want a real cool way to stay safe? Then always pretend that everything you are posting is being emailed directly to the president of FINRA, and that should keep you pretty darn safe…
In summary, be smart out there when you are posting online. Once it is live, it is hard to destroy or take back completely. The best social media marketing compliance tips for financial advisors must be fair and balanced, don’t ever give investment advice, and be able to back up (with proof if needed) every single thing that you post.
Police yourself on your social media and digital marketing efforts…or someone else will.
P.S. – If you found these social media marketing compliance tips for financial advisors helpful, then please help us spread the good message to others using the social media buttons on the left. You rock!
P.P.S. – To read the accompanying article, “The Truth about Social Media and Financial Advisors,” click here.