Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New SEC Guidelines on Social Media Clear the Way for Asset Managers

Last week the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an update to their social media guidelines regarding filing requirements under the Investment Company Act and other statutes. Overall, it appears the Commission wants to foster a more lenient regulatory environment on Twitter and other social platforms so investment companies aren’t stifled from using this new form of marketing and communication.

The update makes clear that the sharing relevant links, stories, white papers and other non-fund-related things over Twitter and other platforms are exempt from filing requirements. Here’s an example of a Tweet that is acceptable:

“Consumer Reports has written an article in which it mentions our ‘Brand X’ Rewards Card. Are you a member?" or ”The ‘Low Volatility Anomaly’ is explained in our latest white paper LINK”

Even mentioning the word “performance"or sharing a link back to a website that includes fund performance data is exempt from filing requirements. Stating specific performance data in the communication still needs to be filed. (ie. Fund X achieved a 3 month return of XX%) These new guidelines should allow asset management firms and other investment companies more leeway to communicate and influence via social media.

Many large alternative and traditional asset managers such as The Carlyle Group,Blackstone Group, PimcoBlackrock and State Street are already using Twitter as a public relations tool to build their brands and communicate their thought leadership. (Pimco already has over 100,000 followers) While these large firms have the resources and extensive compliance departments to ensure adherence to the rules, these new guidelines make basic sharing of information on social media a much less burdensome activity. Every asset manager that aims to be an influencer in the community should be participating.