As of October 1, the SEC has revised the questions in Form ADV based on its rule release IA-4509. One key area of revisions relates to social media. The SEC’s summary of all ADV changes is available here. The following screen shot from that PDF file shows the edits to the social-media and website-related questions.
Several points of clarification are offered in the Background section of the SEC’s Adopting Release for the new rule (https://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2016/ia-4509.pdf). In particular, whereas corporate-owned accounts are required for listing, the following types of accounts or pages are not required:
- Employees’ accounts
- Pages the firm doesn’t control, such as on review sites including Yelp and Angie’s List
- Corporate-owned accounts of non-registered affiliates used only to promote the business of that affiliate
Social media accounts have recently been a topic of focus for the SEC, which seeks to ensure content provided via these accounts conforms to its rules and guidance on advertising. Presumably the gathering up of social media account addresses implies the agency is moving toward a more comprehensive, automated monitoring approach, as expressed in a recent MarketWatch column by Robert Powell. Powell quotes G.J. King, president of RIA in a Box:
The new social media disclosure requirements will eventually allow the SEC to have true “big data” capabilities to monitor the social media activity of advisers in a programmatic and automated manner, King said, so advisers should expect more scrutiny in the coming years.
“Social media needs to be treated like any other form of advertising and it’s essential that it is reviewed and properly archived,” said King, whose company offers a few resources for advisers who want help complying with the new form.
“We should expect more scrutiny of social media archiving in the coming years,” King said, “as the SEC gains access to more robust data and is able to do more remote monitoring to help determine which firms should be audited.”
The need for monitoring and oversight of corporate social media accounts is relatively new, and it may be prudent for advisors to review those business practices and increase awareness of them throughout the firm if needed. For advisors who have yet to engage on social media, read our blogs Social Media for Financial Advisors is Here to Stay and Getting Started: Seven Initial Steps for Launching Social Media Accounts for Financial Advisors.