How's a financial representative to compete with so many businesspeople in less-regulated professions who send e-newsletters and blog about their work?

Regulatory Purgatory

Professionally speaking, I grew up in the financial services sector.  Literally grew up there (in grade school I did light filing for my father, an insurance agent).  After college I worked for insurance companies, a bank, and LendingTree, a financial services firm.

So believe me when I say I understand the need for compliance when talking about other people’s money and

How Do Financial Representatives Communicate Within Social Media?
Meaningful Communications: Impossible?

investments.  Even more so since the 2008 meltdown.

An acquaintance works for a Mass Mutual general agent.  Like most financial services companies, Mass Mutual rules external communications with an iron fist.  As a result, her “original” communications options are limited to transaction requests like “Please send me the street address and phone number of the surgeon who removed your gall bladder  in 2002. “

How’s a financial representative to compete with so many businesspeople in less-regulated professions who send e-newsletters and blog about their work? She does her best to stay in touch with prospects and clients by sending links to holiday cards.  Pretty lame, but keeps her name out there.

Last week she sent this message:  “Every few months, I try to keep my clients and friends up-to-date with current financial issues or critical concerns. Here is the latest. This is not a download or an attachment. It is a safeguarded link.”

Ahhh, I thought, now she’s putting some meat on the communications bone.

Clicking through the link I went to what was essentially a six-slide PowerPoint presentation about how awful taxes are and the stunning conclusion that “The IRS collects more tax than many people want to pay.”

When it got to the teaser line that said “Review strategies that can help you reduce, defer or possibly eliminate current taxation,” I thought I was in for some meaningful information on the next slide.

I was wrong.  The next slide was simply a text box where I was supposed to talk about my taxation vexation so that an insurance agent could follow up within 48 hours.

The whole thing was sooooooo far from meaningful that I think it did her more harm than good to send that one.

Financial Writing Prompts:

I’m interested in the variety of compliance hurdles financial services professionals face.   Wondering whether communications policies are more similar than different from firm to firm.  Here, you can write under another name if need be, so cut loose!

  • What are you doing to stay relevant in this social media business environment if all your conversations are recorded and written communications censored?
  • What are competitors with other firms doing that you think go over the edge?
  • Are any changes in sight?

About Tamela M. Rich

From Charlotte, NC, Tamela writes books, articles, speeches and presentations for business professionals. From "the road" she writes about the people, places and experiences she discovers and the life lessons she learns from them. Invite her to share some of her lessons from the road at your next event!

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  1. T
    Fine article. I think you may be missing the forrest through the trees. As preposterous, nay assinine as the communications policies are, the bigger issue is that as an industry, not only do they not want you communicating, they do not want you to DO anything either. In my opinion the entire industry is little more than a giant asset gathering machine. Little effort beyond some bland pablum in the guise of Modern Portfolio Theory(read REALLY expensive index investing) is offered. If half the effort was put in actually forming relationships with clients and advising and positioning assets, as is put into screening emails and clamping down on innovation and asset management maybe several trillion of retail dollars would not now be in money heaven. That is all ok, since no one actually does anything, liability is minimal, which is the ultimate goal.

  2. Bring it on! I’m prepared to let this blog serve as a forum for all to discuss not only the problems with the current system, but also to trot out possible solutions. Nothing like a little sunshine on the dark and secretive workings of those at work in the financial-industrial complex.

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