Well, I just returned from 2.5 fun-filled days at FINRA’s annual conference. Lots of humidity, lots of suits, and lots of talk around social media. C’mon, it can’t all be about branch office oversight, arbitration trends, and municipal securities dealer obligations. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t for a lil bling to shake up the staid world of financial industry regulation.
Judging by the attendance of the “Compliance Considerations for Social Media” session, it’s pretty fair to say that social media is THAT bling giving compliance officers angst. Still in its nascent stages, you didn’t have to walk more than a few feet to overhear conversations like “So, what are you guys doing about social media?” or “How do you guys monitor what’s going on out there?” Oftentimes, you’d hear CCOs respond, “We don’t allow anything.” Other times, you’d hear, “We let our reps use LinkedIn, but we have a tough time keeping track of what they’re doing.”
There seemed to be no doubt, however, about the merits of social media. Brows started to furrow though when the conversations turned towards monitoring and recording of this deluge of social media content. Now, it wasn’t just the social media session where you heard folks talking about this latest and greatest marketing channel. It also popped up in other sessions, too, such as in the “Advertising and Disclosure for Dually Registered IA/BD Firms,” “Risk-Based Examinations and Surveillance,” and “Oversight of Outside Business Activities.” So, social media presents compliance challenges that bridge several FINRA departments.
Despite the fact that Joe Price himself stated that there would be “no fundamental changes” to Regulatory Notice 10-06, the door was still left ajar for minor tweaks to the notice. Example: what to do about non-corporate devices? How do you capture the content that’s being uploaded to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter from an iPhone, iPad, or BlackBerry? Methinks that whenever FINRA issues updated guidance to 10-06, there likely will be language addressing the treatment of non-corporate devices. Do you agree?
Remember, FINRA is still feeling its way around social media – we know this from our ongoing engagement with their Advertising Regulation and special investigations groups. We also know that FINRA is aware of the availability of technologies (like ours) that enable firms to record interactions on social media sites and that we expect to see more firms turning to social media over the coming months (watch this space for more news on that).
Already, you can start to feel the tide turning with respect to the (inevitable) acceptance of social media usage within the financial services industry, especially when you compare sentiment from this year’s conference to last year’s. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference to see how much more entrenched social media will be in firms, both big and small.
What say you?