Skip to content

#HSonAir Podcast: An Interview with Sophia Bera of Gen Y Planning

In episode 35 we interview Sophia Bera (@sophiabera), Financial Planner and founder of Gen Y Planning, which delivers comprehensive financial planning to next Gen investors in their 20s and 30s across the country.  In our discussion we explore how Sophia is disrupting the traditional financial planning model working with clients to deliver an upgraded service experience.  We also talk about her new eBook What You Should Have Learned About Money, But Never Did: A Gen Y Guide to Empowered Personal Finance available on
Check out Sophia’s takeover of Bill Winterberg’s Bits & Bytes Show.
Join the conversation with @VictorGaxiola and @EliZelig on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.  If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future guests, please e-mail us at 


An Interview with Kate Holmes of Belmore Financial (Podcast)

On the heels of our recent executive report The Advisor of the Future, in episode 32 we introduce Kate Holmes (@the_kate_holmes), head financial coach and founder of Belmore Financial.  In our discussion we explore how Kate is coaching and helping the planning needs of the next generation of investors, and leveraging technology to connect with clients and prospects.
In our interview, Kate mentioned a recent Wall Street Journal interview for their Voices column that can be found on her Facebook page without a subscription. [ subscribers can link directly to the story here.]
Join the conversation on Twitter with @VictorGaxiola and @EliZelig using hashtag #HSonAir. Have a question, comment or suggestion, send us an e-mail at

Interviews with Marie Swift and Michael Kitces at #FPABE in Seattle: #HSonAir Episodes 6 and 7

Marie SwiftIn episodes 6 and 7 of Hearsay Social On the Air we introduce and review the Financial Planning Association (FPA) Business and Education Conference (#FPABE) in Seattle and sit down with two thought leaders there.

Episode 6: Marie Swift

In episode 6, we interview Marie Swift of Impact Communications to discuss how she works with independent advisors and planners on their marketing and public relations activities. Also, if you’ve ever wondered whether social media activities can be traced back to real ROI–in dollars–this is an episode you don’t want to miss.
[iframe style=”border:none” src=”” height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]

Michael KitcesEpisode 7: Michael Kitces 

In episode 7, we extend our coverage of the FPA’s conference in an interview with Michael Kitces (financial planner, commentator, speaker, and educator at and partner of the Pinnacle Advisory Group@MichaelKitces). We learn about the evolution of his views toward social business in relation to financial planning, the power of having a blog as a content cornerstone, and the creativity of niche marketing.
[iframe style=”border:none” src=”” height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]
As always, remember to  join the conversation on Twitter with @VictorGaxiola and @ronnykerr using hashtag #HSonAir. We love hearing your feedback!

New SEC guidance on testimonials for financial advisers on third-party social media sites

shutterstock_179555099_smallOn March 28, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released new guidance (IM Guidance No.  2014-4) clarifying how the testimonial rule should be interpreted with social media. This guidance provides financial advisers with more leniency for use of client commentary that appears on independent third-party social media websites.
The SEC made clear that as long as client reviews appear on independent social media or review sites, and that the adviser has no ability to affect which public commentary is included or how the commentary is presented, then the mere reference to such commentary does not violate the rule on testimonials.
For example, it is permissible for an adviser to link from their social media page to reviews on public sites like Yelp or Angie’s List. The third-party site, however, must allow the public to see all commentary about  the adviser–both good and bad–and such commentary should not be filtered in favor of the adviser. To the right is an example of such a Yelp page, which contains unsolicited public reviews on an adviser.
It remains the same that advisers should have no influence on the third-party commentary. This guidance clarifies that commentary should not be displayed on social pages or profiles that could be curated by the adviser. For example, an adviser should not accept reviews from clients on a Facebook page that the adviser owns, because in that case they would be able to control the content.
This guidance also clarifies how the SEC considers non-investment related content in advertisements. In contrast to prior interpretations, this makes clear that non-investment related commentary in an advertisement, such as comments on religious affiliation or community involvement, can not be considered a violation of the rule 206(4)-1(a)(1).
The SEC also addresses client-lists in relation to social media friends or fans. According to the guidance, it should not be clear from an adviser’s social media page or profile who are clients and who are friends/other connections. For example, they should not have a Twitter list called “clients.” And, the social property should not imply that the contacts/friends have experienced favorable results from the adviser’s services.
Although this guidance provides clarity for advisers’ use of third-party commentary on their social media sites, some firms elect to continue to require all content on social media to be pre-approved before it is published. With this guidance, you should adjust your policies and procedures based on your own risk tolerance. You can read specific advice for addressing the testimonial rule across social media sites here.
The complete guidance from the SEC is visible on their website here.
Learn more:

Disclaimer: The material available in this article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. We make no guarantees on the accuracy of information provided herein.

Social media compliance: What investment advisors need to know

Ed. note: The following post, authored by Yasmin Zarabi  (vice president, legal & compliance, Hearsay Social), originally appeared in Financial Planning.

FinancialPlanning_logoAs social media grows increasingly popular among RIAs, there are still questions regarding testimonials, endorsements and recommendations on social sites. The SEC’s recent guidance allowed for certain use of third-party commentary on social media that would not violate the “testimonial rule.”

Here’s what investment advisors need to know now.

Underlying rule

Since the 1940s, the SEC has forbidden RIAs from promoting client endorsements or testimonials in anything that constitutes an “advertisement.” Rule 206(4)-1 under the SEC Investment Advisers Act of 1940 prohibits an RIA from publishing, circulating or distributing any advertisement which refers — directly or indirectly — to any testimonial of any kind concerning the RIA or any advice, analysis, report or other service rendered by the investment advisor.
But in the digital age, clients can effortlessly use social media to endorse and recommend their advisors with just a few clicks. The SEC has issued a couple of clarifications related to social media. Back in January 2012, it published a National Examination Risk Alert on Investment Adviser Use of Social Media, outlining its concerns about RIAs’ use of social media and describing how clients can provide recommendations and endorsements. More recently, in March 2014, the SEC issued Guidance No. 2014-4 — Guidance on the Testimonial Rule and Social Media — providing further clarity on investment’s advisors’ use of third party commentary on social media.
How could a third-party comment or social media “action” be viewed as a “testimonial” on social media and therefore prohibited? One thing is clear: In its guidance, the SEC says an investment advisor should not invite its clients to post commentary directly on the investment advisor’s own social media site or page.

But what uses of third-party commentary would be permissible by the testimonial rule?

mzl.hcndxsjsLinkedIn recommendations & endorsements

LinkedIn endorsements and independent recommendations about the advisor’s skills should be avoided. An endorsement can occur in two ways: A client could endorse an advisor for a skill that is already listed on his or her profile or a client could initiate an endorsement for a new skill that does not already appear on the advisor’s profile.
To avoid the first scenario, advisors should select “No” for the “I want to be endorsed” feature under the “Skills and Expertise” section on their LinkedIn profile to turn off the feature that allows clients (other LinkedIn users) to “endorse” their skills. In addition, if a connection attempts to add a new skill to the advisor’s profile, the advisor should reject the endorsement to avoid violating the testimonial rule under the Advisers Act.
Recommendations on LinkedIn are completely separate from endorsements. They are free-form written opinions of one’s professional skills, accomplishments or experience. A client can choose to recommend an advisor or an advisor could request such a recommendation.
If advisors receive unsolicited recommendations, they have the ability to review and approve the recommendation before it appears publicly on their profile. Advisors should not accept or request any recommendations on LinkedIn. Advisors may also want to add a preemptive note to the Summary section of their profiles to say up front that they will not accept recommendations or endorsements.


Advisors should avoid retweeting any tweet from either a securities research analyst or a client who is providing a testimonial about the advisor’s performance or a product or service of its firm.

LikeSocial media “likes”

Many firms also worry about the interpretation of a like on Facebook or LinkedIn, or having viewers choose to “favorite” a tweet. Likes can mean many things: For example, a like from a third party may simply indicate that a visitor enjoyed an article that was shared or appreciates the artwork on a page.
Much depends on context: The 2012 SEC Risk Alert was careful to state that interpretation of a like as a testimonial is based on the facts and circumstances. A like that an advisor solicits as an indication of a client’s experience with the firm may be construed as a testimonial. However, a like on a photo of an advisor’s new baby may not.

Links to third-party sites

The March 2014 SEC guidance also clarifies how advisors can use third-party commentary on social media. According to the guidance, advisors should not link to commentary on a third-party social media site unless they can demonstrate all three of these:

  • That the advisor has no ability to affect which public commentary is included or how the commentary is presented on the independent social media site.
  • That the commentator’s ability to comment is not restricted.
  • That all comments, both good and bad, can be viewed publicly.

Takeaway: rules for advisors

Financial regulations only prohibit the use of testimonials or endorsements that are related to financial services and the ability to manage money. But advisors can avoid violations of the testimonial rule by following these guidelines:

  • Do not list any skills on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Turn the LinkedIn endorsements feature off.
  • Do not accept any LinkedIn endorsements initiated by a third party.
  • Include a disclaimer on your LinkedIn profile instructing third parties not to endorse.
  • Only share links to independent third-party social media sites on which you have no influence on the third-party commentary and you are not materially entangled with the third-party social media site.
  • Do not cherry-pick favorable client testimonials or endorsements  on your social media pages or any advertisement. If you allow testimonials, you have to show the good and the bad commentary, and not just the favorable comments.

In general, advisors should avoid soliciting client feedback in a way that may frame a Facebook like or a third-party post as a testimonial.
And as a best practice to limit their risks, advisors should prominently display language on their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles indicating that they (and their firms) are not responsible for and do not encourage third parties to post anything on their behalf.
Given that the financial regulations relating to social media are relatively new, and social media platforms continue to evolve in their uses and the ability to effect controls, firms should consider the guidance in light of their organization’s policies for their advisors.

Disclaimer: The material available in this article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. We make no guarantees on the accuracy of information provided herein.