Who Owns Social Media Contacts — Investment Professionals or Employers? – Interesting Debate

We all know that Wall Street firms are often forward thinkers when it comes to product innovation and investment strategies. But it’s unlikely that even they could have predicted the ease with which client information would flow thanks to the widely-used social media applications available today.

However, the issue of who owns client information is far from new. In 2004, a few of the larger broker/dealers in the United States came together to commonly address the kinds of basic client information registered representatives were allowed to take with them when moving between signatory firms. Known as the “Protocol for Broker Recruiting,” here’s what it covers:

When Registered Representatives move from one firm to another and both firms are signatories to this protocol, they may take only the following account information: client name, address, phone number, email address, and account title of the client that they serviced while at the firm (“the Client Information”) and are prohibited from taking any other documents or information.

The idea is that the agreement — when properly executed by the departing employee and his or her new firm — reduces the likelihood of litigation by recognizing that departing employees are entitled to take limited client information to their new firms.

According to RIABiz, nearly 800 firms remain signatory firms of the agreement as of February 2012. The current list includes many advisory firms that are not directly affiliated with a broker.

Read the full article at

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