It’s official: financial advisors are on LinkedIn.
ING US (which is about to be re-branded as VOYA Financial) has started to add more of their advisors to LinkedIn, joining Morgan Stanley, Edward Jones, and Guardian Insurance, whose advisors are already on the site.<!--more-->
This is big news for LinkedIn and the financial services industry. FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, regulates the industry in the same manner that the AMA regulates physicians. To FINRA, participation on social media is equal to advertising one’s services. This means any profile on any social media outlet must be peer-reviewed and approved by a compliance officer. This is no easy task and as a result, most financial advisors have just stayed off social media altogether.
This is a shame, because there are lots of people and businesses out there that can use their services. And it obviously makes it harder for people in the industry to become known to others, to share non-confidential information, and establish themselves. That’s why, for the past several years, The Friedman Group has been working with financial advisors to get them active on social sites like LinkedIn without the hassle.
But things are now changing, with ING getting ready to rollout about 100 affiliated advisors following a successful, if tiny, 10-person pilot on LinkedIn. According to Wall Street & Technology, its waiting list of advisors who also want to get on LinkedIn is growing each day.
LinkedIn’s Business Approach Is Good for Financial Advisors
One thing I can’t say enough to social media-shy professionals is that LinkedIn is different from Facebook. They are two completely different animals, created for different purposes. (At least for now: word is that Facebook wants to challenge LinkedIn’s dominance in the B2B marketplace.)
LinkedIn was created as a business networking tool and has managed quite well to stay this way. Participating on LinkedIn is a great way to keep up with market, technological, and other news related to specific industries. LinkedIn features professional groups based on industries and specific focuses. Corporations run employee and alumni groups. Users recommend articles and resources to one another. Since it’s a business site, reader comments tend to be analytical, not emotional.
LinkedIn Made The Right Moves To Convince FINRA
It wasn't as if LinkedIn hadn't noticed the dearth of financial advisors on the site. In 2012, it teamed up with Socialware, a business solutions software provider to regulated industries to create a tool that would let regulated corporations preview employees’ profiles and posts before they go live on LinkedIn.
The tool searches and eliminates features deemed inappropriate by industry standards and firm preferences, so an update to LinkedIn will already have filtered out anything questionable. This saves corporate compliance time they used to spend going through each piece line by line. Accounts can be delegated to specific staff and reviews can be programmed with multiple steps to further ensure each approval is done by the book.
The next step, Socialware’s Bruce Milne told Wall Street & Technology, is to create profile templates that reflect the rules and requirements for different players in the financial services market, including brokers, wealth managers, and bankers.