In May, financial industry giant Morgan Stanley decided to allow its brokers to begin using social media in the course of their jobs. Since the use of social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook have become mainstream methods of doing business for most industries, the financial industry has, somewhat understandably, been dragging its feet.
According to Reuters, and based on a memo released from the company:
Next month, a test group of 600 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney advisers will be allowed almost full use of LinkedIn, the professional networking site, and restricted use of Twitter, the micro-blogging service, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
Within six months, the program will be expanded to the firm’s entire force of 17,800 advisers.
“The emergence of social media has changed the way in which people communicate with each other and companies interact with clients,” Morgan Stanley Smith Barney U.S. wealth management boss Andy Saperstein said in the memo. . .
Morgan Stanley is not allowing full use of social media. The freewheeling nature of social networks — letting users link to other websites, spread messages and images — has made them wildly popular but a source of anxiety for brokerage compliance officials.
The company will use social web monitoring software to keep tabs on and collect all activity, but look for brokers to make mistakes as they navigate unfamiliar waters.
I’m terribly curious about what “restricted use of Twitter” and “almost full use” of LinkedIn means, exactly.
I’m also terribly curious about what kind of training the 17,800 advisers are completing between now and November. Former financial advisers from other companies have shared with me the “social media guidelines” handed down from their corporate offices. To sidestep proper use of social platforms, the companies have given advice to the advisers that goes against the grain of the entire Internet culture. In short, cold calling, based on scraped contact information and relationships gleaned from prospects’ social networks. Mark my words and put a note on your calendar for November 2011; expect to be contacted by someone you don’t know via a social network, reaching out to help you with your financial needs.
Every Morgan Stanley adviser should know this: don’t engage if you’re not 100 percent sure you understand the culture of social media and where the culture and the rules of your company (and compliance standards) intersect.
Hey Morgan Stanley — if you’re listening, and I hope you are, I’d really like to know how you’re helping your advisers adjust to the new culture. And while you’re waiting for that flip to be switched in November, take a look at some of my recommendations of how your industry can be using social platforms right now, and in the future.