Morgan Stanley To Allow Brokers To Start Tweeting

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Morgan Stanley (MS) is changing its tune when it comes to allowing brokers to post on Twitter (TWTR). Over the next few months, brokers will be allowed to post self-authored tweets on company approved accounts.

Until now, Morgan Stanley's 17,000 financial advisers were allowed only to tweet "pre-scripted" posts concerning general themes and investments as well as a few lifestyle topics. Brokers will also be allowed to use LinkedIn (LNKD) under the same new guidelines.

Before being allowed to take advantage of the new rules, brokers will have to prove they have at least 15 Twitter followers and complete a company-approved, 20-minute long, online training course before they can post their own messages or re-tweet messages from others. Postings will not be immediate though.

"This new functionality offers Financial Advisors an opportunity to further customize their social media experience and complements the existing capability for all approved users to write self-authored status updates on LinkedIn," said Christine Jockle, Corporate Communications Director for Morgan Stanley.

Brokers will not be able to discuss specific investments, offer forecasts or mention instruments which require disclaimers such as structured products or commodities. All messages are to be moderated by a supervisor, with approvals promised within a few hours.

Morgan Stanley's decision came after a year of testing using 600 employees to see if social media could be welcomed as an additional business tool. Competitors such as Bank of America (BAC), UBS (UBS) and Wells Fargo (WFC) have yet to embrace the new world of social media as an investment business tool.  Goldman Sachs (GS) and Blackstone Group (BX) each have corporate Twitter accounts and AllianceBernstein  (AB) allows employee use of LinkedIn.

There are industry rules already in place to guide the process. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the industry's self-regulatory arm, is insisting that content must adhere to federal laws and rules which regulate and limit ads and testimonials, and the investment firms must also keep records of all social media postings.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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