Financial advisors can now feature online reviews as part of their marketing strategy. This change comes after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) clarified its rules around advertising.
Effectively, advisors may now include reviews in a testimonial on their websites and other marketing materials as long as they comply with the prohibitions and conditions specific to the type of advertising they are conducting.
Notably, advisors must disclose if the person giving the testimonial or endorsement is compensated, if they are a client, and if they have any material conflicts of interest. One crucial general prohibition from the SEC is the restriction of "cherry-picking," or intentionally focusing on testimonials that benefit the advisor.
In their guidance, the SEC defines the following important terms:
- Advertisement: when feedback such as reviews is used to attract clients
- Testimonial: an advertisement sourced from a current client or private fund investor
- Endorsement: an advertisement sourced from a promoter or non-client
- Third-party ratings: given by rating agencies not related to the financial advisor
- Review: unsolicited third-party feedback on review sites such as Google
Under the general terms and conditions, all of these are allowable as part of marketing materials.
Please carefully review the SEC Investment Adviser Marketing final rule for general prohibitions and additional conditions before implementing reviews in your marketing strategy, and also ensure that your activities are in accordance with your firm's compliance guidance and restrictions, however they may define them.
This update has the potential to improve online visibility for advisors. Search engines such as Google prioritize online reviews when delivering results. If a client searches for "financial advisor near me," advisors with positive reviews are more likely to appear on the top of the first search results page, and are therefore more likely to get the click.
Client review examples
Requesting reviews from clients
Clients gravitate toward people who work well with others. Glowing reviews, high star ratings, and strong testimonials show prospects the quality they may expect by working with you.
Consider the following best practices when leveraging testimonials:
- Be proactive and ask clients to review your business on Google after a great meeting or after you have delivered real results.
- Always ask permission before using a review as a testimonial on your business website.
- Include a link on your website to the review site so your prospects have access to all feedback.
Partner with Putnam for social media training
Your Putnam consultant team is recognized industrywide as a valuable partner in building your business using social media. They can work with you one-on-one in person, officewide, or via webinar to deliver custom training sessions to you and your clients. Visit Putnam.com or call us at 1-800-354-4000.
This communication is for informational purposes and provides summary highlights of the SEC Marketing Rule that may be of particular interest to investment advisers. It is not a complete analysis of the SEC Marketing Rule and the information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances. Information contained in this communication should not be construed as legal advice.
Putnam Retail Management.