Although Wall Street players enthusiastically supported LinkedIn’s IPO last week, in an effort to control the indiscriminate distribution of information, the ever expanding world of social media has been off limits to brokers and financial advisors in the workplace. But it appears that the perceived benefits of moving with the times are set to outweigh concerns over privacy and confidentiality issues surrounding social media such as FaceBook and Twitter, as Morgan Stanley’s wealth management division announced plans to making Twitter available to its more than 17,000 financial advisors. However, the goal of controlling information distribution has not changed, as all tweets must be approved by management before being sent out. Moreover, a selection of economic insights, investment tips and market updates deemed acceptable for general distribution will be made available to financial advisors to send out via Twitter.
It has been reported that this initiative by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MSSB) will be launched toward the end of June, starting with around 600 advisors spread throughout the company having access to both LinkedIn and Twitter, enabling them to share these pre-approved tidbits of financial wisdom with their social and professional contacts. It is anticipated, based on the success of the pilot group, that the balance of the company’s financial advisors will have access to these services within six months. With stock market regulators constantly scrutinizing Wall Street activity in order to detect, and hopefully prevent, investment scams, this move toward using social media for business will no doubt receive its fair share of attention.
In a memo to staff, head of US wealth management Andy Saperstein, noted that MSSB is the first high-profile wealth management firm to use social networking sites as a marketing tool and as a means to share pertinent information with clients. The memo emphasized that this will be done, while complying with regulatory requirements. The memo further went on to highlight that in the past few years, the development of social media sites has altered the way people communicate with one another, as well as the way that companies and clients interact. The memo went on to outline the anticipated benefits and advise staff that the roll-out of access to Twitter and LinkedIn is an extension of the company’s “innovative communication strategies”, and that it has potential to provide a “significant competitive advantage” for MSSB.