Don’t Fear the Compliance Boogey Man: Turning the Lights On Your Marketing and PR Ideas
“I’m not sure if compliance allows that.”
“I don’t want a LinkedIn profile because it’s too much of a hassle.”
“Is that an approved activity?”
We hear similar sentiments all the time, and it’s understandable. There have been many financial firms in hot regulatory water over the past few months, and going through a compliance audit is always stressful. No matter what broker-dealer you are with, the compliance process of submitting materials for review and then making changes is often an arduous part of the job.
But it’s time for advisors—and business owners in general—to shift their psychology. As a PR firm for financial services companies, we’re familiar with compliance and regulation. We understand that it’s tedious. We also understand that it’s nothing scary. You shouldn’t avoid marketing and promoting your business and expertise just because you don’t want to deal with compliance. Trust us: we have seen the results that come from proactive, compliance-approved public relations activities—and it’s worth it.
As long as you are obeying the rules and have a good bit of common sense, there is nothing to fear. Many financial services companies have loosened their leashes and are allowing advisors to have a social media presence, create bylined articles, speak with media contacts and more. Compared to five years ago, the rules are much more flexible.
Here are a few examples of how advisors and companies are working within compliance limits to promote their brands:
- Morgan Stanley advisors have been able to use social media since 2011
- Charles Schwab has over 18,000 Facebook fans
- Broker/dealer 1st Global has a forum of thought leadership for advisors
- Advisors are regularly contributing articles to national publications
All of these activities are compliance approved, provided that the institutions follow correct protocol in advance.
Our firm has worked with hundreds of advisors and professional executives and we’re familiar with the general do’s and don’ts. And truthfully, compliance rarely gets in our way because we plan for it. We know that the marketing and press materials we create have to be approved before we share them with reporters, and we have that in the back of our heads as we create them. We also know how to train our clients properly in advance of interviews. Plus, we are huge advocates of the power of social media. Did you hear about the recent Putnam survey claiming that 49% of advisors have acquired new clients using social sites? As I said before, it’s worth it.
It may seem daunting, but when you take a step back and realize the scope of PR and marketing activities that advisors are allowed to participate in, there is a world of opportunity that exists if you just change your perception!