Six Words that Drive Compliance Crazy
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The last thing you want is to become “that advisor.” Once you get put in the compliance department’s doghouse, you are not going to get out anytime soon! This is especially true for wirehouse reps.
Here are six phrases to avoid using in your marketing copy if you want your chief compliance officer to like you.
As I’ve said before in other articles, the advisory industry has become so commoditized that very few firms are doing anything special. You’ll only annoy compliance by calling anything you do “unique” because that it’s an exaggeration.
Use terms such as “distinct” or “we have been distinguished by” because this phrase is far less absolute.
#2 Best (Better)
In addition to hating hyperbole, compliance loathes any superlative terminology. Forget about calling anything “better” or ”best” and take it down a level to “good,” “successful” or “suitable.”
Unless you’re referring to the Academy Awards, forget about even alluding to performance.
#5 (Something) Will
Welcome to the Twilight Zone. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.
Any time you talk about any future event, add the word “likely” or “probably.”
#6 You Must (You Should)
This phrasing strikes fear into the keyboards of your legal team. Any imperative could be construed as advice, so don’t even go there.
Take the commanding tone out of the sentence by phrasing it as “you could consider” or “you may wish to look at.”
Sick of regulations yet?
We’ve stripped down the English language to quarter of its original size. Pray tell, how can an advisor go about communicating like a normal person without sounding stilted or robotic?
I outline the whole process to do this in another article about getting a blog through compliance.
If you’re writing the content that people want to read, you are naturally aligning yourself to stay well within compliance bounds.
Here’s what I mean by that. See below for a few article titles that steer way clear of any product or performance language, but yet still engage the affluent reader.
- Three Things to Know About Your Money If You’re About to Get Married
- Three Factors to consider if You Are Thinking About Disinheriting Someone
- What to Do if Your Financial Advisor Has a Disclosure on their ADV Form
- Pros and Cons of Telling Your Kids How Much Money You Have
You’re still providing the reader will valuable insight while at the same time doing them (and compliance) the favor of avoiding any product pushing or going too far into technical detail where the reader’s eyes are going to glaze over.
Make it visual
Many advisors forget about graphics. Make your content come alive with pictures (not those boring analytical charts). Create custom-made graphics or pictures of your team. Compliance will have little to say. As long as you don’t infringe upon any copyrights you’re not going to get into trouble.
Or even better, make a video and insert it into your article. It can be as simple as saying “hello” and introducing the article and explaining why you wrote it. Do you know how hard it is for people to even read things anymore? We’re getting so lazy we can’t even type into Google anymore, we have to use voice search!
Your content should talk to people on a human level and address the real emotions they have towards money and money management. Intriguing graphics and videos make the content come alive and engage the reader without prompting the legal team to slap you on the wrist.
Do this and you’ll be the first advisor in history whose copy people can actually relate to. If you’re looking to be rescued from the throes of your compliance department then send me an email.
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a top financial writer with a focus on marketing and branding for investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor and worked at Lehman Brothers. Sara graduated from Harvard with a degree in English literature and has an MBA from NYU Stern in quantitative finance.