Restrictions on writing a book?


I was randomly wondering, would an employer of a sell or buy side firm typically be opposed to an employee writing a book on say retirement planning or something like that?

Also, if ‘someone’ where to write and publish a book without telling their employer, given it is not too terribly time consuming, would this be a violation of the CFA standards?

Thanks in advance.

Since the book is related to investments and may be considered investment advice, or advocating solutions which may not correspond to the nature of the firm’s existing business, a charterholder would be foolish to attempt to do this outside of their employer’s knowledge.

Probably even more relevant than the Standards in this case would be the employer’s own policies regarding outside business activities. Questions arise such as:

  1. Is the book investments-related and how does what the book says impact existing firm business?

  2. Is the author indicating that they work (on the inside cover, etc.) at Firm XYZ, and will the book’s existence reflect poorly on the firm, or will it enhance the firm’s credibility?

  3. Is the author representing themselves in ways that accord to guidelines set out by Firm XYZ’s Compliance department, in the same way that one would be held to those guidelines if giving public seminars or holding themselves out on social media?

There are myriad other questions that the firm would raise, but you get the point. My take on this is that a charterholder would be putting their professionalism and possibly their charter in jeopardy by attempting to do this without informing their employer. It will come back to the employer one way or another.

^ Based on the books written by Michael Lewis, I’d say firms don’t have any sway

^ I’m not sure I understand your point.

His books don’t promote the reputation of the firms he’s worked for, put mildly

What would a security analyst know about retirement planning?

Ah, I understand. True, but I think the OP is talking about conflicts with a current employer. Let’s face it, if you’re getting the kind of book advances Michael Lewis is getting, you probably don’t care too much about burning those bridges. But I doubt the OP is in that position.

He left his employer (s) before writing his book (s).

Thank you Worlds. Exactly what I was looking for.

Well I work in the industry now. Plus, I would disagree with you on two points. One, the CFA is loaded with an enourmous amount of investment knowledge which would help even if not a direct 1 for 1 correlation to retirement planning. Two, my own personal outside research coupled with personal experiences would all add up to more than enough knowledge to sufficiently discuss the topic.

OK. Here are some things to consider if you are writing a book:

  1. You must write it on your own time. If the company argues you are using company time to write the book, that’s bad for you.

  2. You cannot reveal any kind of trade secrets relevant to your company. If your company has a special way of constructing portfolios that reduces risk and is part of their secret formula, you can’t reveal it, and they have a right to make sure that you don’t.

  3. Most employment contracts have a clause that says you can’t say bad things about an employer unless you are under subpoena in a court case. So you definitely can’t cast them in a bad light. That could potentially include stuff like writing something that suggests they aren’t a good investment manager.

I’m pretty sure as long as you stay away from these points, you should be allowed to write a book. Many companies actually like their employees to publish, since they can then tell their clients how awesome their professional staff is.

Disagree. CFA is almost completely lacking in retirement planning stuff. It talks only vaguely about retirement plans and annuities, and says almost nothing about Social Security.

Thanks bchad. Dually noted.

That’s why I said not a direct correlation, but retirement planing, finance, and the markets are all interlocking in some way or another. Of course the CFA does have readings titled, “Optimal assets for highly risk averse clients”. But having a very deep understanding of the different asset classes via the CFA coupled with understanding risk aversion can lead you to an optimal conclusion.

Knowing which assets to invest in for growth and income is not the same as knowing how to plan for retirement.

Think about some of these real-life questions:

  • Which is better, a SEP-IRA or a Solo 401k?
  • If I annuitize my IRA at 58, then can I take excess distributions without the 10% penalty at 60?
  • Did you find the answer to the above in 72(t) or Revenue Ruling 2002-06?
  • Do you have to take RMD out of a Roth 401k? (The answer might surprise you.)
  • What are the consequences of taking Social Security now as opposed to waiting another year or two or three?
  • If I die before my spouse, how does that affect her Social Security benefits?
  • My wife is a teacher and doesn’t pay into Social Security. Is there any way to get SS benefits for her?
  • My kids are 12 and 14. I’d like to set up an IRA for them, but they have no earned income. What can we do about this?
  • Are my Social Security benefits taxable?

These are the relatively easy questions that any good CFP should be able to answer. (Score one for the CFP!)

Bam! +1

It depends on the type of your employer.

For example, a hedge fund would actually support such idea, a book by an employee would be another way to indirectly advertize the firm.

Of course it will have to be reviewed and approved by management/compliance…

Thanks for specifics, GreenMan. I’m pretty sure I’m smart enough to figure this out if I have to, but a lot of the work is about having this stuff ready when you need it, and to spot opportunities in people’s specific situations. I would not be able to do that on a moment’s notice the way I am now.

I never looked down my nose at CFPs. It’s really all about having the right tools for the right job.

Truth be told–if I could go back in time, I would do the CFP instead of the CFA. I realize that it’s a “lesser credential”, but it’s probably more useful in my present job.

Writing a book is pretty much pro bono. Especially non fiction. You’ll be lucky to get $5 an hour for the time you put in.