Uncertainty over compliance and regulatory requirements remains the top reason CFPs steer clear of using social media for professional use, according to a just-released survey by the CFP Board.

The survey of 3,532 CFP professionals, completed in October 2012, found that while 73% of those CFPs surveyed say they use social media, only about 45% of CFPs use it for professional purposes. The three top reasons CFPs do not use social media for professional purposes include:

  • Compliance prohibitions and limitations (37%);
  • Uncertainty over compliance and regulatory requirements (33%); and
  • Lack of time (20%).

CFP professionals’ compliance departments prohibit them most often from using:

  • Facebook (33%);
  • Twitter (29.4%); and
  • YouTube (28.7%)

Kevin Keller, CFP Board’s CEO, said in a statement that “these results indicate that CFP professionals are interested in using social media as a platform to educate the public about the value of financial planning and why they should use a CFP professional in addition to using it as a tool to network.”

However, Keller continued, “more work needs to be done though to help CFP professionals and others better understand the rules of the road when it comes to the use of these communication tools.”

To provide CFPs with best practice tips and enhance their current social media strategy, CFP Board released the same day a Social Media Guide for CFP Professionals.

Additional highlights of the CFP Board survey include:

  • The most popular social media channel for professional use is LinkedIn (81.9%), followed by blogs (71.8%), Twitter (45.9%), Google+ (34.5%) and Facebook (19.6%)
  • Top reasons cited for using social media professionally are to:
    • Network with other financial planning professionals (44.8%)
    • Keep up with professional news and trends (43.1%)
    • Marketing and business promotion (33.1%)
  • 61.2% of CFP professionals post to social media channels “infrequently”
  • 70% stated their firm or company has a formal social media policy in place. These policies most often address:
    • Procedures for monitoring social media usage by compliance departments (67.6%)
    • Limitations on topics that may be shared or discussed on social media channels (64.7%)
    • Requirements for prior approval of all outgoing communication on social media (63.8%)
  • 41% of respondents use “certified financial planner professional” to describe themselves to clients. The terms “financial advisor” and “financial planner” were also commonly used.