Social Media Sites Have 'Significant Potential,' 44% of Advisors in Study Say

Advisors see compliance issue, though, as top concern

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  • Use and Misuse of Social Media Social media is an inexpensive and effective way to communicate with established and prospective clients.  Nevertheless, when RIAs utilize social media to promote their advisory practices, they risk compliance problems for their firms.
  • The Need for Thorough and Effective Policies and Procedures Whethere an advisor is SEC or state-registered, RIAs must revise their policies and procedures to address significant compliance problems occurring during the year, changes in business arrangements, and regulatory developments.

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have taken on a significant role in daily communications, and 44% of advisors who use these social media sites say that they have a "significant potential" for their businesses, a study released Monday, March 29, by American Century Investments (ACI) finds.

The study by ACI, a privately-held investment management firm, gauged the attitudes of financial professionals, which included financial planners, brokers and registered investment advisors, toward and usage of social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace.

"We know that financial professionals are still in the early stages of adopting social media as a viable tool to build their business, but many recognize its long-term potential," Jennifer Sussman, director of Online Marketing and Experience for ACI, said in a statement.

According to ACI, the respondents reported that their top business uses of social media were researching people, like prospects, contacts and current clients; monitoring industry and market news; and reading expert commentary and insights. The study reported that 71% of respondents have one or more future business uses planned for social media, primarily monitoring industry and market news, followed by reading expert commentary and insights, and researching people.

The biggest concern for advisors, 47%, was regulatory or compliance issues; followed by potential privacy breaches, 21%; and restrictions on use at company or home offices, 14%.

"This indicates to us that understanding how to better navigate compliance guidelines and industry regulations on social media use could bring peace of mind to financial professionals and spur adoption of its use," Sussman said.

The results of the American Century Investments research project were drawn from online surveys of 303 financial professionals. Study participants averaged 14 years in the financial industry; 73% were male and the average age was 46.

To read more about ACI's study, please click here.

To read about advisors' views on social media in a story from the archives of, please click here.

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