The Subtleties of Relationship Marketing

Smiling young couple shaking hands with an advisor

The relationship between you and the client is one of your most important assets. Focusing on loyalty and long-term engagement will almost always pay off more than “turn-and-burn,” sales-focused approaches. This is especially true today where consumers value experience, communication, and personality. Not only do they value these attributes, but they have also come to expect them from businesses. This is why relationship marketing should be the focal point of your overall strategy.

Strong advisor/client relationships are often built through in-person appointments and various other marketing touches. Informational emails and monthly newsletters are good for ongoing education and product updates relevant to their situation. Sharing articles on social media will provide a similar benefit. A brief phone call to catch up and chat about any life changes is another powerful form of relationship marketing.

These are all tried and true examples of relationship marketing. And you’ve probably been practicing many of these since your first year in the business. While these slow-burn methods are effective, there are other, more subtle ways to establish credibility and build strong relationships.

Be Transparent

Transparency is a necessity for businesses today. Your clients expect their personal information to be kept under lock-and-key. Obviously, you will need some of that information. Clarify why you’re asking for it and the channels it will pass through. Other ways to boost transparency include:

  • Make sure to let the client know as much as possible about you and your business (core values, background, education, credentials, etc.)
  • Responding ASAP to phone calls/messages with questions, concerns, or criticisms
  • Disclose all fees and expenses associated with their plan

Personality Counts

Professionalism is of the utmost importance when dealing with clients. You need to look the part and come across like a true pro. At the same time, you want to show off some personality. Clients, especially newcomers, want to feel comfortable with those they do business with. The value of personalized engagement cannot be understated. Be proactive and consistent with communication and speak in terms the client can easily digest. Active listening is also crucial. Show the client you’re invested in their situation and give them a sense of ownership in the process.

Keep in mind that maintaining long-term clients is much more cost-effective than onboarding new clients. An easy-going and relatable personality will earn that loyalty.

The Low-Pressure Cooker

An aggressive sales pitch is a great way to turn a new or potential client into a missed opportunity. People would rather buy than be sold to. In-person appointments are your best chance to build rapport and strengthen relationships. Spend a few minutes engaging in small talk before transitioning into education and, ultimately, the pitch.

Relationship Marketing Stats

  • 77% of consumers will recommend a company to a friend after having a positive experience (Get Feedback)
  • A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75% (Drift)
  • 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. (American Express)
  • New acquisitions can be 5 – 25 times more expensive than retaining existing clients (Oberlo)
  • 65% of a company’s business comes from existing clients (Small Biz Trends)

Making an Emotional Connection

Family walking

Marketing efforts that make an emotional connection can be one of the most effective ways to capture consumer attention and leave a lasting impression. Do you remember the movie “Old Yeller?” Of course, you do. And you also know why you’ll never forget watching the film. A boy and his dog. Love and loss. Life and death. These are all very real themes that every one of us can relate to in some way. And when we see these experiences unfold in front of us, we can’t help but internalize them. This is why making an emotional connection can be an effective marketing tactic.

What Makes Emotional Marketing So Powerful?

Content aimed at eliciting an emotional reaction – be it sadness, happiness, fear, anger, nostalgia, etc. – can inspire people to act. Often, the more impactful the content, the more significant the action. We see this play out all the time on social media every time someone shares a meme, story, or video. Whether the content is funny, political, sad, or motivational in nature, it impacted that person enough that they wanted to share it with friends and family. If they hear a song or watch a show that hits close to home, they buy the album or binge-watch the series. The point is, they take action.

Connecting Through Content

Consumers favor content that connects with them on an emotional level. It gives them a reason to remember your brand, follow your social media channels and, hopefully, pick up the phone. All of these are forms of engagement that can ultimately lead to you shaking hands with a new client.

Insure Your Love

Look back at 2019’s “Insure Your Love” campaign ad (video below). It’s easy to see why and how this type of content can be such an effective vehicle to promote the importance of life insurance. It puts us in front of a very real, and likely familiar, scenario. The endearing parent/child moment draws us in before the heartbreaking surprise at the end. The emotional reaction is genuine, the impression left is long-lasting, and the message is powerful enough to inspire action.

While the “Insure Your Love” campaign is exclusive to February – and Life Happens has already rolled out its 2020 campaign – the concept is evergreen. So, next time you’re brainstorming for your next marketing effort, think about those things that would inspire action on your behalf. Chances are that your prospects feel the same way.

Getting the Most from Your Facebook Posts

Facebook Likes

Whether you love it or could live without it, Facebook is one of the most effective digital marketing tools financial professionals have at their disposal. The platform is a one-stop-shop for targeting prospects and new leads across multiple demographics. However, Facebook is only effective when used strategically. Are you getting the most from your Facebook posts? If your posts are going unnoticed, try incorporating these tips into your social media strategy.

Timing of Your Post

The day and time you schedule your post can play a huge part in its overall reach and engagement. The general rule of thumb has been that posting on weekdays between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. will generate the best results. While these are peak traffic times, that doesn’t guarantee your followers or target audience will be actively engaged during that window.

To get a better idea of when your followers are online, go to the “Insights” tab on your business page, and click “Posts” on the left side of your screen. Under the “When Your Fans Are Online” tab, you’ll find a graph showing the number of your followers on Facebook at any given point in time over a one-week period. Use this to determine when to best schedule your posts.

Frequency

It’s important to keep your content flowing on a consistent basis. It’s also important to avoid overdoing it. Much like the time of day you post, pay attention to when your audience is online to determine how much you put out there each week. Ideally, you want to post around two-three times a week.

Quality & Type of Content

The average Facebook user logs on around eight times a day, spending roughly two hours or more scrolling through their news feed. During that time, they’re exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of posts from friends and family, news outlets, followed pages, and advertisements. Standing out amongst that much competition requires your content to be compelling, relevant and high-quality. Keep the following guidelines in mind when drafting your posts:

Short & Sweet – Posts with 50 characters or less are more likely to be read. According to Statista, 96% of Facebook users access the site through a mobile device. Assume that many of them are on the go when scrolling and don’t have time to engage with a lengthy post. Brevity is crucial. Your copy is a call to action. Be concise and clearly state your value proposition. Starting your post with a question is a great way to keep people engaged and interacting with your content. Images, videos, and links to relevant pages will help round out your overall message.

Images – A sharp, quality photo or graphic will catch a Facebook user’s eye as they come across your post. Choose an image that helps tell your story and pique the audience’s interest. Keep any text you add to your image to a minimum. Facebook recommends using images with less than 20% text for optimal engagement.

Video – Video is by far the best way to capture the attention of your audience. Roughly 60% of Americans who watch digital videos do so on Facebook. Posts with video average 6.13% engagement rates, compared to the overall average of 3.6% (Hootsuite). Shorter videos (between 30 – 90 seconds) will get better engagement and retention rates than those longer than two minutes.

Show Some Personality

Strive to connect with and relate to your audience. Remember, you’re targeting people that you will (hopefully) be sitting down with to discuss their financial goals. Let them know you’re someone they can be comfortable with while in that setting. Posts that showcase who you are as a person and professional can help plant that seed. Keep in mind there is a fine line between personality and unprofessionalism. It’s ok to have fun and be light-hearted, or even to tap into a current trend. But always think before you post. Content that edges up to or crosses the line of good taste is a good way to lose followers and credibility.

Overcoming Annuity Objections

Annuities can be a very important piece to your clients’ retirement puzzle. Terms life “tax-deferred” and “low-risk” should be music to the ears of anyone looking for the savings vehicle that will carry them into and through their golden years. But with numerous options available, annuities are as complex as a financial product can be. Advisors need to have a clear understanding of the clients’ situation when drafting a retirement plan that involves annuities.

This also means that the client needs a clear understanding of how annuities work. While some may, you should expect that most people will come in knowing very little about, or carry one or more misconceptions about, annuities. It’s the latter that will almost always bring objections to overcome.

Below are a few examples of annuity misconceptions/objections you might hear from clients, and tips on how to respond.

Exposure to Market Volatility

This is an easy one. Fixed Indexed Annuities are low-risk savings vehicles. While cash value does accumulate based on the performance of a specific stock market index (S&P 500, Dow Jones), the annuity had no direct exposure to the market. Use the crash of 2008 as an example to highlight this point. When the market crashed, countless retirement accounts went down with it. However, those with fixed annuities came out with their principles relatively unscathed. This level of protection should be especially attractive to those who are close to, or at retirement age and don’t have the luxury of waiting for a fluctuating market to recover.

High Management and Contract Fees

It’s true that management fees can chip away at the annuity’s cash value. But the same is also true with IRAs and 401(k) plans. It might be helpful to explain that some of those fees can go toward extra layers of protection, such as a Lifetime Income Benefit Rider, or additional options. Overall, it’s important the client know the fees associated with the annuity before making their final decision, but also realize that any savings vehicle they use is going to come at an expense.

No Access to Funds if/when Needed

The ability to access funds in an emergency is a concern for many would-be annuity buyers. While other products may allow low or no penalty access to funds, annuities do allow for early withdrawals. The penalties involved largely depend on the type of annuity, the annuity owner’s age, and the length of time they’ve had the annuity. When discussing these details, stress the point that annuities are most effective when left alone to be used as a steady stream of retirement income, and not designed to be liquidated. If this is still a concern, recommend a strategy that includes cash value life insurance.

Lower Payout / Income Stream in Retirement

There are several variables that determine what the annuity will pay out each month. And that amount will likely be lower than monthly payments from a pension or 401(k). The key takeaway here is that the client will receive guaranteed, regular payments in retirement. Present this as a classic “risk vs. reward” scenario. One solution might offer higher monthly payments but could leave the client at risk of outliving that income. An annuity that includes a Lifetime Benefit Rider will eliminate that risk and provide a lifetime stream of cash. Some annuities now allow the retiree to pass on any unused balance to a beneficiary upon death. This is also a good time to present solutions that combine an annuity with life insurance, pension, and/or Social Security benefits.

 Additional Objections

These are just a handful of objections and misconceptions you’ll encounter when discussing annuity-based retirement plans. This is a complex financial product that comes with multiple variables and options. Hesitation and scrutiny are to be expected. The best way to overcome these barriers is to educate the client to the best of your ability. Keep in mind that this is a lot of information for someone to take in during an hour-long appointment. Sending them home with materials they can read through might be the key to conversion here.

Our Annuity Basics guide is the perfect resource to help with client objections and misconceptions. This consumer-facing brochure gives a comprehensive, yet easy-to-read overview of annuities as a retirement planning strategy. Claim your free copy of the guide now by filling out the form below, or by calling (800)255-5055.

Claim Your Annuity Basics Guide Today

 

4 Trends That Advisors Need to Know for 2020

A financial advisor looks at marketing trends for 2020

With every new year comes a laundry list of new trends that will impact the way many of you will do business. Emerging tech, demographic shifts, and changing culture all play a role in the lives of a small business owner. As one of those small business owners, you’ve probably already seen your share of articles promoting the shiny, new social media and digital marketing trends for 2020.

But how many of those are relevant to you specifically? What might work for a retailer or coffee shop probably won’t benefit a financial advisor. That’s why Marketing Corner’s first “2020 Trends” list was written exclusively for advisors and agents looking to gain an early advantage in the new year.

Content Marketing

Content continues to be king. And thanks to Google’s recent algorithm updates, it won’t be abdicating the throne anytime soon. In the fall of 2019, Google integrated BERT, a language processing technology, into its search engine. Without diving into the mechanics, BERT considers the nuance and context of each word used in a search query, rather than crawling for the individual terms. This allows for a more “human-like” understanding of the query and more relevant results for the user.

What does this mean for your website? Because people tend to search Google much like they would hold a real conversation (ex., “When should I claim Social Security benefits”), the search engine is going look for answers to that question. This more natural and conversational aspect of Google’s ever-evolving algorithm means it’s crucial to have a website that features a wealth of relevant and well-written content. Keep in mind there are several variables that factor into Google search rankings, but the importance of content will continue to grow in 2020.

According to the Content Marketing Institute:

  • ROI for content marketing is triple that of paid search
  • Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than those that don’t
  • Conversion rates are six times higher with content marketing versus other methods
  • Websites with blogs have 434% more search engine-indexed pages than those without

Omnichannel Marketing

The vast expanse of the digital landscape means a message limited to one channel is a message that is going to miss a portion of the intended audience. Marketing across multiple platforms is a great way to expand your reach and connect with as many prospects as possible. The benefits of omnichannel marketing can be seen in the stats below:

  • Engagement rates for omnichannel are nearly 19% compared to 5.4% on single-channel
  • Customer retention rates are 90% higher
  • Purchase frequency is 250% higher

As it relates to content marketing, the most obvious omnichannel marketing technique to employ is to share blog posts across your social media networks. With numerous social platforms out there, this can be a daunting task. We recommend advisors and financial professionals focus on the “Big 3” networks to find qualified prospects:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

A solid omnichannel marketing strategy means more than simply posting blogs and sharing the links on social media. It requires across-the-board consistency in voice, branding, and message. Make sure your logo, contact information, “about me” information, bio, and anything else related to your business is the same wherever they’re used. This not only includes your website and social media pages but any physical mediums you might use (flyers, posters, billboards, brochures, etc.).

Legislative Reforms

The SECURE Act has already brought about a huge overhaul of American retirement laws. The legislation was designed to make it easier for people to save for retirement. Last week’s Marketing Corner gave a brief overview of how the new law impacts saving vehicles such as annuities, 401(k) plans, and IRAs. Those who missed out can read the post here.

For an even deeper dive into the SECURE Act, including details on how it impacts small businesses, we just launched the first in a two-part series covering the SECURE Act. Get your copy of Key Highlights from the SECURE Act: What You & Your Clients Need to Know at this location.

It’s important to note that the full effects of the SECURE Act won’t be felt for some time. The next year could see additional modifications that could change the way advisors help clients plan for retirement. Also, consider the potential for new laws and reforms to be enacted in the coming months and beyond.

One possible change to keep your eyes on is a proposal by the Trump Administration to restrict eligibility for SSI disability benefits. And with 2020 being an election year, conversations about Medicare For All, LTCI reform, and other related topics are going to take their share of the spotlight for the next several months.

On a state level, Medicaid expansion and marijuana reforms are two hot button issues that could change the way many advisors do business.

Security & Privacy

This isn’t exactly a tangible item to keep in your marketing toolkit but should become part of the overall conversation you’re having with prospects and new clients. Fraud in retirement accounts has been on the rise since 2018. While the estimated $14.7 billion lost to cyberfraud that year was lower than previous years, more cybercriminals are finding their way into retirement savings accounts.

Your first instinct might be to avoid this topic altogether. After all, no one wants to leave your office with words like “cybercrime” and “dark web” ringing in their ears. However, it’s enough of a concern to warrant discussion. Because trust and credibility are paramount to the consumer experience, the effort you make to educate clients on the importance of cybersecurity won’t go unnoticed.

Spend a few minutes going over some simple cybersecurity tips, such as:

Attention to security extends beyond sharing a few tips with your clients. A secure website and digital presence are absolute necessities in 2020, especially for businesses with their hands on a client’s life savings. The list below includes items that should already be a part of your cybersecurity arsenal. Make them part of the discussion to ensure your clients that you have their best interests in mind.

  • SSL Certified website
  • HIPPA Compliant CRM
  • Privacy Disclaimer on Drip Emails
  • BBB Accreditation

In the interest of transparency, make sure you also explain to your clients why you need the information they share with you, and the steps you take to keep that information safe.

Key Provisions from the SECURE Act

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Act into law. The SECURE Act marks the most significant overhaul to retirement policy in years. And with these changes, comes a need for many people to review, or even revise, their retirement plans. This presents multiple prospecting and marketing opportunities for financial advisors.

In total, the SECURE Act consists of 30 provisions, each one affecting the way people save and plan for retirement. While the 125-page document addresses a wide array of topics, some stand to have a more immediate and direct impact on the everyday wage-earner.

Below is a brief overview of some of the key provisions from the SECURE Act that advisors should be discussing with their clients.

Annuities

  • Expanded retirement savings opportunities by making it easier to include annuities into 401(k) plans
  • Portability of lifetime income options for qualified plans.

RMDs

  • The Required Minimum Distribution Age has been increased from 70 ½ to 72.
  • The change does not apply to those who reached age 70 ½ by December 31, 2019.

401(k)s

  • Certain long-term, part-time employees can now participate in 401(k) plans. These employees must meet minimum service hour requirements.
  • The maximum automatic contribution percentage for “safe harbor” 401(k) plans has been increased.

IRAs

  • The age cap for contributing to traditional IRAs (previously 70 ½ years old) has been eliminated. Like Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs now have no age limitations.
  • Stretch IRAs for certain beneficiaries are no longer allowed. Those beneficiaries must now withdraw all money from the inherited plan within a specified time frame.

Overall, the SECURE Act covers a lot of ground. While designed to benefit retirees, it does comes with several complex changes that people need to be aware of. Advisors need to be proactive and start educating clients (and themselves) about how these key provisions from the SECURE Act could impact their long-term goals.

Three Untapped Marketing Ideas for Producers

Marketing

Drip email campaigns, direct mailers, seminars – these are among the most popular marketing strategies producers use to connect with new prospects. But it never hurts to branch out. Using a variety of tactics and content delivery platforms is the best way to enhance your overall strategy. Below are just a few untapped marketing ideas that you should consider incorporating into your plan.

Social Media Groups

A strong social media presence is a necessity for any small business owner. Many of you have probably already benefited from your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, but might not be using these platforms to their full potential. Posting content regularly and allocating a portion of your budget for ads and targeted posts is a good start, but there is more you can do.

During his keynote speech at the 2019 F8 conference, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a more privacy future for the social network. The foundation of this new direction is said to be rooted in groups. Designed to bring people of similar interests together and increase the user’s exposure to meaningful content, more than 400 million Facebook users are a part of one or more groups. Current website and app redesigns are aimed at making access to these groups easier, making industry-relevant pages a potential goldmine for prospecting.

Joining and having an active hand in relevant Facebook groups expands your reach and connects you with new consumers. This could be as simple as sharing your Facebook posts in relevant groups or advertising your services in the Marketplace. You could also contribute to conversations started by other group members. LinkedIn also features groups that can be used similarily. If you’re willing to invest the time and effort, this can help showcase your expertise and make valuable connections.

Podcasting

Podcasting is an often-overlooked brand awareness vehicle. The medium has seen a significant increase in its audience over recent years. The following stats from Edison Research support this:

  • An estimated 62 million American consumers, roughly 22%, tune in to podcasts weekly.
  • 41% of monthly podcast listeners make more than $75k a year.
  • Listeners search for podcasts to:
    • Learn new things (74%).
    • Stay up to date with the latest topics (60%).

As you see, this is an increasingly popular platform with engaged listeners who come in thirsting for information. Wouldn’t you agree that the world of podcasting is worth exploring?

Creating a podcast is as simple as sitting down and having a conversation. You can purchase a basic podcast setup that includes a decent microphone, headphones, an audio interface, and basic recording software. Many podcasters will partner with a co-host who can contribute to the discussion. To keep things running smoothly, draft a script or list of talking points to follow during the conversation.

Client Appreciation Shoutouts

Holiday cards, thank you emails, and even the personal touch of a phone call can go a long way toward showing appreciation for your clients. They can also serve as a subtle nudge toward coming back in for a policy review or conversation about a new financial product. While your effort might put a grin on the client’s face, there’s another option that will undoubtedly leave an impression.

Celebrity shout-out videos have become wildly popular in recent years. These short, personalized video messages from athletes, actors, musicians, and other personalities are good for any occasion. Who wouldn’t appreciate a personal message from NFL legend Brett Favre or a cast member from The Office? Not only will the celeb mention your client by name, but make sure they know who sent the shout-out. This might sound a bit gimmicky, but when the client calls with an enthusiastic “thank you,” you’ll see how gimmicks can potentially pay off in the end.

Prepping Your Business and Marketing Plans for 2020

Business man hand holding wooden cube with flip over block 2019 to 2020 Plans word on table background. Resolution, strategy, solution, goal, business and New Year holiday concepts

The effort you put in at the end of one year can have a significant impact on how you start the next. This is a good time for settling accounts, getting your books in order, and conducting holiday marketing activities. But what are you doing to prep for the beginning of the new year–or in this case, the new decade? While this can be a hectic and distracting time, it’s vital you carve out time in your schedule to work on your 2020 plans now. Otherwise, you’ll burn away the first few weeks of January trying to catch up. So, take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee and ask yourself, “What do I want 2020 to look like?”

Set Your Goals

Break down your various production goals into monthly or quarterly increments. This is an efficient way to track your progress and determine whether you need to make any adjustments to your plan. Set up a document outlining your monthly/quarterly production goals and split those goals into specific categories. As the year progresses, compare those goals to your results. This will give you an organized and detailed overview of your growth. Aside from production and revenue, consider the other goals you’d like to achieve over the next year. Do you want to target new markets? Or bring on new employees? Outlining any operational, administrative, or non-specific goals is an important part of staying focused on the big picture.

Establish a Marketing Budget

Make a list of the different marketing activities you use or would like to explore in the new year; web development, seminar marketing, community events, lead gen, etc. Now, assign a dollar amount you feel comfortable spending on each. This won’t be a concrete budget, as changing trends and results will likely call for periodic adjustments. But it will give you a foundation on which to build your overall plan of attack. Plus, you can start the year off with a better idea of the returns you would like to see from each investment.

Personal & Professional Development

Your plan for a bigger and better 2020 should include quantifiable metrics such as goals-versus-results and revenues-versus-expenses. Think about steps you can take to grow as both a person and a professional. What can you do to better serve your clients? How can you build credibility? What are your strengths and weaknesses? You might be a financial guru who could fill a book with retirement advice but need to brush up your writing skills. Or maybe you want to tap into video marketing but tend to freeze up in front of the camera. We all have those areas in which we could use some improvement, and they certainly don’t take away from our tangible job skills. However, pinpointing certain weaknesses and working to overcome them can be very beneficial to your business. Think of personal/professional development as a list of new year’s resolutions you won’t forget about by the end of January. For example:

  • “Sharpen my writing skills and improve the quality of my original blog content.”
  • “Learn more about generational marketing so I can more effectively target Millennials.”
  • “Keep up with emerging trends in social media marketing.”
  • “Practice my on-camera presence and delivery for video marketing campaigns.”

The examples above may not be what you think of when drafting a marketing plan but can have a significant impact on how well you execute that plan.

Obviously, there is so much more you will need to consider for the year to come, but it’s important to start somewhere. And just as important to get started ASAP. Get in touch and let us know how we can help.

Think Small, Go Big: Small Business Saturday Marketing Tips

This is the time of year when most entrepreneurs are fully engaged in holiday marketing activities. The next few weeks will see businesses hitching themselves onto the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other year-end sales wagons. However, there is another, often-overlooked event coming up that is also worthy of your attention – Small Business Saturday.

The locally-focused alternative to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is an annual event held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The intent is to encourage people to patronize businesses in their own communities. In other words, get holiday shoppers to spend money with local retailers. However, there also are ways for agents and advisors to take advantage of Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday Marketing Tips

During the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday, reach out to a few local businesses about cross-promotional opportunities:

  • Hand out each other’s promotional items to your respective clients and customers.
  • Share each other’s social media posts and pages. Relevant hashtags include #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat.

Don’t limit your partners to retailers. Engage with service providers and other non-retail businesses.

  • Gyms/fitness centers
  • Cafes and coffee shops
  • Home improvement and remodeling contractors
  • Auto repair shops

local business ownerConnect With Your Community

Small Business Saturday is a community-wide event. You can meet a lot of new prospects by simply showing up. Bring plenty of promo items and offer incentives to those who join your email list.

Think of the resources you invest in Small Business Saturday as lead gen activity. Your presence will show business owners that you have a vested interest in the community. This can go a long way toward building solid B2B relationships. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see how you can get involved.

 

 

SEC Looking to Modernize Ad Rules for Advisors

Advertising for financial advisors might soon enter the 21st century. The Securities and Exchange Commission voted in early November to propose amendments to rules that have long constrained advisors’ ability to advertise their services. If the amendments pass, they will be the first updates to the Investment Advisers Act since 1979.

According to the 507-page document filed by the SEC on November 4, the “proposed amendments to the solicitation rule updates its coverage to reflect regulatory changes and the evolution of industry practices since we adopted the rule in 1979. The Commission is also proposing amendments to Form ADV that are designed to provide the Commission with additional information regarding advisers’ advertising practices. Finally, the Commission is proposing amendments under the Advisers Act to the books and records rule, to correspond to the proposed changes to the advertising and solicitation rules.”

In a nutshell, the SEC’s Advertising Rule will finally be tailored to fit in the modern, digital landscape. Among the most notable changes to the rule will see “advertisement” redefined to include communications “disseminated by any means,” and will “recognize developments in technology, changing profiles of investment advisers registered with the Commission, and our experience administering the current rule.”

The expanded definition will include emails, text messages, instant messages, electronic presentations, videos, films, podcasts, digital audio or video files, blogs, billboards, social media, newspapers, magazines, and direct mail.

The newly proposed definition of “advertisement” will not include:

  • Live oral communications that are not broadcast on radio, TV, the internet or similar medium
  • Communication that does no more than respond to an unsolicited request for information about the advisor or their services (this provision gives exception for communication to a “retail person” that includes performance results or any message that includes hypothetical performance).
  • Ads, sales material or literature about an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940.
  • Information that requires statutory or regulatory filings.

Other changes would allow advisors to solicit clients with testimonials, endorsements, and 3rd party ratings. According to the documents, the SEC is “We are proposing to expand the rule to cover solicitation arrangements involving all forms of compensation, rather than only cash compensation, eliminate requirements duplicative of other rules, and tailor the required disclosures solicitors would provide to investors. The proposed rule would also refine the existing provisions regarding disciplinary events that would disqualify a person or entity from acting as a solicitor.”

The SEC is taking public comment on the proposed amendments through January 3. Read the full press release about the proposal, including comments from SEC Chairman Jay Clayton here.