Don’t share industry infighting topics with your clients

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More and more advisors are sharing, blogging and tweeting financial industry battles either directly with clients and prospects or in forums that are read by individual investors. This is a mistake and often a turnoff for the investor.
As an example, one of the recent, most heated industry topics debated is around who should regulate investment advisors. It is understandable why the various factions within our industry get involved and get heated. An op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal recently by Senator Bachus re-sparked this debate. No matter which side of the debate you personally fall on, one thing is for sure: your client likely does not care about this argument. Retail investment clients do not care who audits, inspects, or governs their advisor, as long as their advisor is not harming them. Who governs the advisor is the advisors problem. Similar “inside baseball” topics revolving regulatory issues, turf battles, business models are always and will always be around. What your client cares about is not being ripped off-how exactly that happens is not something they are too terribly interested in.
Imagine if you will, two contractors arguing in front of you about the virtues of copper plumbing versus flexible plastic tubing. If they are both in same price range, and function, most really don’t need to know the details. What clients do want to see advisors opining on, writing about and providing thought leadership on is how to improve investors lives, in plain English.
There also is real risk in engaging in industry-battle in forums read by investors. First, you are wasting valuable impressions on topics likely not to educate, inform, or help potential clients. Investors at all levels of the asset spectrum need basic and regular education, and every opportunity an advisor has to do this, they should.  Second, many times these industry missives are very emotional and pointed and can make a negative impression. Content on the web never goes away; it only gets buried with new content. Care in what and how you write something has never been more important.
So the next time you get the urge to get active about an industry issue, consider a personal email to those industry participants, or only posting in a venue that is limited to professional use. Use forums that investors read to share educational points of view, in a voice that any investor will understand. It will both educate and not harm you in the future.

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