How About Joining The Conversation In Progress?

One of the recurring discussions I have with asset managers is about the top dog role that they envision for themselves in social interactions. Some want to send the tweets that get re-tweeted but give short-shrift to the importance of reading let alone re-tweeting others’ tweets. Some want to form the go-to LinkedIn group without joining any groups of their own. If there’s going to be a discussion online, some think they should start, lead, control or sponsor it.

No doubt, part of this thinking is shaped by uncertainty surrounding what FINRA or the SEC or their Compliance function will allow them to do. But part of it is also driven by the ego that drives all brands. Brands became accustomed to calling all the shots in Web 1.0. In the early days, only brands had the resources to establish domains and use them to communicate with sizable “audiences” online.

But, that was very much then. Today where does the meaningful interaction happen on the Web? It’s not on a brand (or investment product manufacturer) Web site. It’s where the people are—on social sites, on blogs, on media sites. It’s on sites where brands are typically welcome to sit at the table as guests but not as the masters of ceremonies.

I understand what the mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) company is struggling with. But if you believe, as I do, that there will be mounting pressure and business benefits for those that figure out how to be more social, you might be interested in an opportunity to participate in an online event planned for March 27.

Passionate Bloggers To Show The Roth IRA Some Love

The #RothIRAmovement is a groundswell being organized by registered investment adviser and CFP Jeff Rose. (My first version of this post identified Jeff as an LPL advisor but he since told me that his firm converted to RIA last year.) This is my third blog post mentioning Jeff. The first was when I discovered how high his blog was ranking for the "Roth IRA conversion" search term—and yes, that was by design. The second time was when he was part of a panel discussion on how advisors use social media.

Now, according to his March 6 blog post, he thinks young people lack education on Roth IRAs and he’s calling on personal finance bloggers to publish a post on March 27 "about why the Roth IRA is important, why [you] love it, and why every young investor needs to know more about it."

As of yesterday, 109 bloggers had promised to participate. As you’ll see on his site, the first to comment was someone from “stakeholder management and mobilization” at USAA, but no other asset managers are on board yet, Jeff told me Friday.

Just a brief digression about the emerging personal finance blogging community. It’s intrigued me for about a year, and I kick myself for not going to their first Financial Blogger conference in Chicago last October, especially after I watched Jeff’s wrap-up video. Watch enough of the 11 minutes to pick up on the sense of community and the shared passion.

The scope of personal finance is broader than investments, of course, and there are more bloggers who aren’t financial advisors than are. But, on March 27 this passionate group is going to be focused on an investment product near and dear to mutual fund companies’ heart. (One-quarter of Roth IRAs are held at mutual fund companies, according to a November 2011 ICI report “The Role of IRAs in U.S. Households.")

There’s no knowing the quality, depth and even accuracy of all of the content to be published on March 27. The same would never be said about a well funded Roth IRA awareness campaign orchestrated to take place on an asset manager microsite. But, this is a movement and it has the potential to make its own impact, including on financial advisors online. Don't you want in on this?

Your Options?

You don’t have much time between now and March 27 (social stuff is always on somebody else’s schedule). Let’s think about a few options for you to join in.

If your ad-buying network targets personal finance blogs, you could heavy up on some of them. Ditto for a pay-per-click campaign, I suppose.

More meaningful would be if you found a way to take part in the conversation. You might:

  • Time a Roth IRA-related blog post for that date—give props to the #RothIRAMovement and be sure to send a link to Jeff so he can add your post to his list
  • Make a point of commenting on a few blog posts, remembering that you can’t control comments that follow
  • Tweet about a few of the posts, remembering to use the #RothIRAmovement hashtag
  • Follow the bloggers on Twitter (hey, Jeff, are you going to create a Twitter list?)
  • Or find another way to show that you are listening and maybe learning