Talking About An Asset Manager Online? We Can Hear You, You Know

Open letter to those seeking work at asset management companies


I know you don’t know me, but your tweets about your prospects for working at a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) company show how little you know your prospective employer. You really need to stop.

One of these days all asset managers will be monitoring what’s being said about them online. And when they do, they will not be happy about how you’re using their names, how swanky you think their offices are and how much you think the hiring manager probably earns. We’re not happy about it now, on their behalf.

As a matter of fact, we’re going to broaden our displeasure to all you vendors and other business partners who tweet about their business with our homies.

Please, believe me, we are 100% on board with joining the conversation, exchanging information in real-time and being as transparent as possible. But we think you’re flirting with comments and disclosures that could be trouble for your clients. What are you thinking? 

Our advice to you, the people responsible for digital marketing strategy, including evangelizing for your firm's consideration of social media: Take all the time your firm needs to develop strategy. We encourage and respect the strategy development process. But push as hard as you can now for 1)a listening capability and 2)priority for policy review on your firm’s expectations for confidentiality. Others’ loose lips online have the potential to sink your social media aspirations.

In the course of our “listening” for mentions of our asset manager clients and customer prospects over the last year, we’ve seen some problem tweets. When we see them, we clip them for reference in our social media training. We cited this very issue in December as one reason asset managers need to focus on Twitter as a communications channel.

But we’re revisiting the subject three months later because more people are on Twitter, more tweets are being sent and, at this point, our goal is to disabuse asset managers of the view that listening is optional.

In multiple other posts we’ve focused on using Twitter to propagate content off your own site, and our AdvisorTweets work is meant to illustrate what can be learned from listening to customers and prospects and engaging. There’s also a customer service component to social media, although just lightly explored so far in this industry. (In fact, we see customer service-type tweets directed at asset managers by people who seem to expect a response. Most go unanswered, we're guessing.)

But this today is about listening and drawing boundaries for people and firms you expose your business to. When your business associates are unfamiliar with working within a regulated industry, they are unaccustomed to censoring themselves. Combine that with the fact that Twitter is a channel that encourages sharing, not filtering.

Do you approve of your PR representation seeking interviews for your portfolio managers on Twitter? Are you undisturbed by real estate developers bragging about their work for you while it’s still in progress? Do you care if your ad agency shares its enthusiasm for their creative work for you with Twitter?

Even where there’s been the perfunctory exchange of non-disclosure agreements with your business partners, we think the widespread adoption of social networking calls for another look at your policies, their explicitness, how they’re communicated and how compliance with them is monitored.

It’s with some hesitation that we show the three example tweets on this post. Under the blocks of red are the names of large asset management companies. The tweets we’ve chosen to show are older, we’re blocking all specifics and we're not showing full exchanges.

We've gone to these lengths to shift the focus from the clueless senders and their clients to make a larger point: These are the types of information exchanges that your firm now needs to anticipate and address. These may give you an idea of what needs to be communicated and then enforced by all departmental functions that interact with external business partners.

As we’ve commented before, asset manager employees are out there, too, in what we suspect are blatant violations of already existing company policies. We didn’t show the job candidates’ tweets and we will not re-publish what we recognize as employee tweets.

But, sincerely, it’s past time to tune in.