As financial planners slowly incorporate social media into their marketing and business growth plans, LinkedIn has been one of the more popular and widely adopted platforms, given its bent towards professionals that provide a fertile ground for advisors looking to network. Yet even as LinkedIn (and other platforms) have grown in popularity, advisors must still be cautious to use social media in a compliant manner – which is no small tasks, given that many of the platforms routinely launch new features that can be difficult to evaluate in the context of decades-old rules and regulations that long predate the kind of technology to which they’re now being applied.
In this guest post, marketing and social media consultant Amy McIlwain of Financial Social Media shares her thoughts about navigating one of the most common questions about regulations and LinkedIn: the endorsement. In a world where advisors are prohibited from having client testimonials and are highly regulated regarding how they advertise their investment performance and results, how are advisors supposed to handle LinkedIn endorsements in a compliant manner?
While many compliance officers have simply decided that the easiest solution is to ban endorsements altogether – which can now be easily done using the tools of the LinkedIn platform itself – McIlwain notes that ultimately the regulations really only prohibit the use of endorsements that are from clients or related to financial services and your ability to manage money (assuming your firm’s own social media compliance policy isn’t more restrictive). Accordingly, while some have simply eliminated endorsements from their profiles altogether, the alternative is to only hide endorsements related to specific people (e.g., clients) and/or specific skills (e.g., investment performance), both of which can now be done on the LinkedIn platform. According, McIlwain provides a walk-through of the exact steps that have to be taken to make the appropriate and compliant changes for LinkedIn endorsements, and shares some thoughts about how to communicate your actions – especially to those clients who may have provided an endorsement that you’ve subsequently be forced to hide – to ensure that every endorsement you receive still has a positive outcome!