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Morgan Stanley lets advisers write what they tweet

Jul 1, 2014 @ 11:51 am

By Joyce Hanson

Morgan Stanley, Twitter, social media, Merrill Lynch, UBS Wealth Management, Wells Fargo Advisors
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Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has given financial advisers the go-ahead to write their own Twitter content.

The wirehouse announced Monday that it is expanding its Twitter program so advisers can post self-authored tweets on firm-approved accounts. Advisers who are approved to use Twitter and have at least 15 followers are able to write tweets and retweet content from others.

Advisers who write their own content must take an online social media training course prior to tweeting, said at the firm. Tweets are approved within a matter of hours by a registered Morgan Stanley principal using Socialware's compliant moderation queue, said Valentina Chtchedrine, executive director for wealth management digital marketing strategy. Advisers will still be able to tweet from Morgan Stanley's library of preapproved content, which includes market commentary and lifestyle features.

“We want to make sure advisers have the opportunity to communicate with clients and prospects, but we do recognize that advisers want a more custom approach to social media and a more authentic dialogue with followers. This is something we've been working on and are very excited about,” Ms. Chtchedrine said.

Financial advisers have been debating the pros and cons of custom versus “canned” content ever since they started using social media. While many independent broker-dealers and registered investment advisory firms allow advisers the freedom to write their own content on Twitter, Linked and Facebook, wirehouse advisers are more likely to use preapproved content libraries because of regulatory requirements.

Morgan Stanley launched its social media program in July 2012 and first allowed advisers to write their own content on LinkedIn.

“We took time with Twitter because it's so fast and public,” Ms. Chtchedrine said, adding that Morgan Stanley is now exploring other social media options for advisers, including Facebook.

A total of 6,500 of Morgan Stanley's 16,400 advisers participate in the social media program, primarily using LinkedIn. Approximately 1,300 advisers are currently approved to use Twitter, Ms. Chtchedrine said, adding that more may join on now that they have the liberty to write their own tweets.

“We have gotten feedback from advisers who didn't want to be on Twitter unless it was self-authored content,” she said.

Amy McIlwain, president of consulting firm Financial Social Media, applauded Morgan Stanley's move.

“Everything is wrong with canned content,” she said. “Social media is real-time conversation, and for advisers to be able to participate in these conversations, they need their own voice and to communicate in a timely manner.”

As an example of an adviser with a highly active presence on Twitter, Ms. McIlwain pointed to one of her clients, James A. Cox III, managing partner at Harris Financial Group, who sells securities through broker-dealer LPL Financial and has approximately 12,500 followers on Twitter.

“He has created a ton of relationships on Twitter and he's out there commenting and responding all the time,” Ms. McIlwain said.

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