A top Morgan Stanley Smith Barney compliance officer said recently the company has been surprised to discover that its financial advisors in their 50s and 60s were achieving more success in the use of social media than younger advisors.
The comment was made at a recent panel on social media in the financial sector at the NASAA Public Policy Conference in Washington, DC, by Mitchell Bompey, executive director of the legal and compliance division.
Counter-intuitive? You bet. I was on the panel and surprised to hear it. Although a later call to Morgan Stanley to follow up revealed no real statistics, I was told there was a ton of anecdotal evidence to back up the statement.
They Really Get It
My experience introducing and training Baby Boomers and older Gen-Xers in the use of social media is far too frequently like pushing the proverbial rock up the hill. But once they get it, they really get it. It is a revelation for many to understand that social media is just a new way to manage relationships.
Why are older Morgan Stanley advisers finding success using social media? It could be that younger advisors are still building their books. The average MSSB advisor tends to skew older and has already assembled a roster of clients and knowledge, but most realize that the social media wave only getting bigger. Some are surprised to find that many high-net worth investors are already using social media.
The older advisors have also seen the research that indicates when their clients die, 90% of their childrenswitch advisors upon inheriting their parent’s money. Even if their clients are not on social media, their heirs probably are. Social media allows older advisors to raise their profile with children and grandchildren in a low pressure medium.
Pilot Phase Almost Over
Morgan Stanley’s wealth management division was the first wirehouse to experiment with social media. In May, 2011, the firm announced in an internal memo that 600 financial advisors out of a total advisor population of some 17,800 would participate in the pilot. Social media platforms would be limited to two: Twitter and LinkedIn, although some advisors have blogs on their websites.
Most of the focus initially was on Twitter, butLinkedIn has proven to be the primary vehicle for social media engagement by advisors. The rules are less oppressive. The first status update must come from a library approved by compliance. But if someone replies with a public message on the advisor’s LinkedIn profile or on LinkedIn Home, the advisor can respond without pre-approval.
Twitter, on the other hand, is more constrained. All tweets need preapproval, except for direct messages. A recent report that a subset of the pilot group of advisors was being allowed to tweet without preapproval is not correct, although it is under consideration.
Excitement is Building
There is a lot of excitement in the ranks of advisors not participating in the pilot and they want to begin using social media as soon as possible. Before that happens, they will need to go through training that focuses on understanding the firm’s social media policy, how to properly use the platforms, and IT security.
A staged roll-out over two to three months to the wider population of advisors is anticipated soon. Just how soon depends upon Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s executive director of legal and compliance.
Need help with your program?
SCOTT PETERSON, co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC, has over a decade of experience in market, securities, and regulatory communications. His firm provides strategic communications consulting, integrated Internet marketing, compliance training, and more to a wide range of organizations.
You Might Also Be Interested In:
Financial Video Comes of Age with Schwab: 60 Seconds in Money (Blog post by Scott Peterson, Co-Founder, Relay Station Social Media, LLC)
Attracting Gen X & Y Clients with Social Media (On-Demand Webinar Replay)
Social Media Marketing 101 for Financial Advisors (Whitepaper)