Tag Archives: compliance

An Open Letter to Smarsh Customers from Actiance

By actiance,   April 8, 2014

Actiance ArrowAn Open Letter to Smarsh Customers:

Actiance wants to make you aware of a recent change in its relationship with Smarsh, and how Actiance can help you improve how you archive social media, email, and all your other critical business communications.

Smarsh has been using Actiance Socialite to export social media to its archive since 2011. If you are a Smarsh social media archiving customer, Socialite has helped you meet archiving requirements for compliance, litigation preparedness, and corporate governance.

After April 30, 2014, Smarsh will no longer be using Socialite, making now an ideal time to evaluate how Actiance can continue to meet your needs. Actiance can help you reduce the time and cost required to archive and discover social media and other communications with its new cloud archiving solution, Alcatraz.

Unlike other archives, Alcatraz allows you to:

  • Archive and discover content with context, including edits and deletes
  • Have a single repository for your critical business communications, including email
  • Map each user’s social media accounts to their corporate directory identity
  • Review content as a full transcript, including snapshots of specific points in time

Through July 31, 2014, you can get social media archiving from Actiance for $5 per month, per user. With this solution, you’ll have an archive built not only for your social media and email archiving needs, but for all the networks your employees use to communicate.

With over 12 years’ experience providing comprehensive, scalable compliance solutions, Actiance understands the unique needs of every business, especially those in regulated industries like financial services. Actiance solutions are used by all 10 top American, all 10 top Canadian, and 8 of the 10 top European banks.

For more information about Socialite and Alcatraz, or to arrange a demonstration, please contact sales@actiance.com or visit www.actiance.com.

Thank you,
Actiance, Inc.

Belbey Blogs: FFIEC Issues Supervisory Guidance for Social Media for Retail Banks

By Joanna Belbey,   December 16, 2013

 FFIECToday’s blog is by Joanna Belbey, Social Media and Compliance Specialist at Actiance. Follow her on Twitter @Belbey or connect with her on LinkedIn.

In January of 2013, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) issued preliminary guidance on social media and asked for comments from the banking industry. 81 official comments, and nearly a year later, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) issued Social Media: Consumer Compliance Risk Management Guidance on December 12, 2013. It is effective immediately.

This final Guidance is not significantly different from what we saw last year (see Belbey Blogs: New Guidance on Using Social Media at Retail Banks and Belbey Blogs: Upcoming Guidance for the Use of Social Media for Retail Banking from FFIEC) but does offer some clarifications and includes input from the industry.

The FFIEC acknowledges that banks face unique challenges when allowing their employees to use social media to communicate with prospective and existing customers due to its interactive and more informal nature. Like FINRA, the SEC and IIROC, this guidance from the FFIEC does not create any new rules and regulations, but seeks to help banks interpret existing advertising, supervisory and other requirements. Unlike the other regulators however, this Guidance also focuses on risk management and encourages financial institutions to identify and put processes in place to mitigate risks such harm to consumers; violations of compliance and legal responsibilities; operational risk, and importantly, reputation risk.

Federal regulators of the retail bank industry will use this Guidance to evaluate institutions such as banks, savings institutions, credit unions and other non bank entities they supervise. Regulators include the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). State regulators are also being encouraged to adopt this Guidance as well.

Below is a summary of key points. You may download the Guidance in its entirety here: FFIEC Issues Supervisory Guidance for Social Media

Risk Management:

The Guidance states that based on usage, banks need to develop a risk management program to control the risks related to social media. Even for those financial institutions that elect not to use social media proactively, they should still put processes in place to monitor and respond to negative comments. Develop the risk management program with input from across the organization. Elicit and include feedback from compliance, technology, information security, legal, human resources, marketing and others. Specific components of the program should include: governance structure with clear roles and responsibilities; policies that address consumer protection laws and regulations; processes for managing third parties; training on employee usage polices; audit processes to ensure ongoing compliance with rules and regulations; reporting to senior management how using social media contributes to the strategic goals of the institution.

The FFIEC Guidance goes on to outline three major areas of risk: Compliance and Legal; Reputational; and Operational.

Compliance and Legal:

Financial institutions want to avoid violating varies rules and regulations and ethical standards. The following is a partial list of laws included in the Guidance and some recommendations to consider before using social media:




Deposit and Lending Products

Truth in Savings Act / Regulation DD and Part 707

Imposes disclosure requirements designed to enable consumers to make informed decisions about deposit accounts. May not be misleading or incomplete.

Customers must receive all required disclosures. Consider a link to additional information for posts that contain trigger words such as “bonus” or “APY)”.

Fair Lending Laws: Equal Credit Opportunity Act/Regulation B and Fair Housing Act 

Prohibits discrimination in any aspect of a credit transaction or in the sale and rental of housing, in mortgage lending, and in appraisals of residential real property.

Banks have same requirements when using social media as other forms of advertising. Although social media sites may request certain information, banks must not improperly request, collect, or use such information such as color, religion, national origin, or sex, in violation of applicable fair lending laws. Supervision is required.

Truth in Lending Act / Regulation Z

Designed to promote informed use of consumer credit by requiring thorough disclosures about terms and costs.

Same advertising rules apply when using social media. Customers must receive all of the required disclosures. Clarifying information may be located on a different page (or link) from the main advertisement. As above, consider including a link within post to additional information.

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)

Prohibits certain activities in connection with federally related mortgage loans. Includes specific timing for disclosures.

Same disclosures requirements apply to applications taken electronically, including via social media. Customers must receive all required disclosures.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

Restricts how debt collectors collect debts.  

Debt collectors may not use social media to inappropriately contact consumers, their families and friends, or to disclose the existence of a debt, or harass or embarrass consumers about their debts. Supervision required.



Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices (FTC, Dodd Frank)

Prohibits unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.

A financial institution may not engage in any advertising or other practice via social media that could be deemed “unfair,” “deceptive,” or “abusive.” Information on social media sites must be accurate, consistent and not misleading. Supervision required.

Deposit Insurance or Share Insurance

Advertising requirements regarding FDIC or NCUA membership and deposit insurance or share insurance.

Same advertising rules for notice of membership apply when using social media. Must include “Member FDIC”, “Federally insured by NCUA”; font must be clearly legible.

Payment Systems

Electronic Fund Transfer Act / Regulation E

Specific protections, including disclosures to consumers.

Same disclosures requirements apply social media. Customers must receive all required disclosures. Disclosures must be “clear and conspicuous” and “readily understandable”. As above, consider including a link within post to additional information.

Rules Applicable to Check Transactions

Bank Secrecy Act / Anti-Money Laundering Programs (BSA / AML)

Financial institutions must have compliance program, training, and internal controls to ensure effective risk management and adherence to recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

Same recordkeeping and reporting requirements apply to social media. Applies to all customers, products and services, including customers engaging in electronic banking (e-banking) through the use of social media, and e-banking products and services offered in the context of social media. Additionally, virtual internet games and digital currencies present a higher risk for money laundering and terrorist financing and should be monitored accordingly.

Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)

Recordkeeping requirements for comments made by the public.

Retain records of written communications made on sites run by or on behalf of the institution that specifically relate to the institution’s performance in helping to meet community credit needs.    


Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act Privacy Rules and Data Security Guidelines

Requirements relating to privacy and security of consumer information.

Clearly disclose privacy policies and safeguard customer information. Particularly relevant when a financial institution integrates social media components into customers’ online account experience or takes applications via social media networks.

CAN-SPAM Act and Telephone Consumer Protection Act.  

Requirements for sending unsolicited commercial messages.

May be relevant if a financial institution sends unsolicited communications to consumers via social media. Consider caution when using one-to-one private communications on social media.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

Obligations pertaining to commercial websites and online services that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children under 13.

Carefully monitor collection personal information of children under 13. Establish, post, and follow policies restricting access to the sites maintained by the institution to users 13 or older, especially when those sites could attract children (such as virtual worlds and features that resemble video games.)  

Fair Credit Reporting Act

Requirements for making solicitations using eligibility information, responding to direct disputes, and collecting medical information in connection with loan eligibility.

Applies when social media is used for these activities.

Reputational Risk

The Guidance further states that activities that create dissatisfied customers or negative publicity, could present a risk to the reputation of a financial institution, even though the firm may have not actually violated any laws. There are three main areas that firms think about before using social media:

Fraud and Brand Identity:

Some of the risks of using social media include negative comments, spoofs and fraudsters masquerading as the institution. The Guidance suggests the firms use social media monitoring tools and to create and follow communications plans should negative events occur.

Third Parties:

Even though a firm may outsource social media management to a third party, ultimately, negative events will reflect poorly on the institution itself and create reputational damage. Therefore, the Guidance suggests careful due diligence and ongoing monitoring when working with third parties.


The Guidance recommends creating processes to safeguard consumers should they post personal information (such as account and social security numbers) on the financial institution’s social media site to avoid reputational damage to the institution.

Consumer Complaints and Inquiries:

Consumers may post critical or inaccurate statements; make specific complaints about errors or fees on social media. Financial institutions are advised create and execute processes to monitor and respond to these complaints in a timely manner. One suggestion is to set up channels expressly for this purpose. However firms are advised to evaluate their own risk tolerance and be prepared to monitor and respond to complaints on a broader basis.

Employee Use of Social Media Sites

Based on its own risk tolerance, firms need to establish policies and training for employees representing the financial institution on social media.

Operational Risk

<Editor’s Note: Given the increasing threat of cybercrime, we find it surprising that the Cyber Security, although mentioned under Operational Risk,  was not called out as a major risk of using social media in this Guidance. Consumers may over share enough personal information that cyber criminals may hack their accounts. Employees are at risk of clicking on links that introduce malware into the organization, as social media users tend to naïvely trust content from existing connections. Employees may inadvertently (or maliciously) leak firm’s proprietary information or customer account data. The enterprise is also at risk from targeted “phishing attacks” that are carefully crafted emails that have just enough information (possible obtained through social media) to trick staff into giving up passcodes and other information to ultimately gain access to the corporate systems.>

And finally, the Guidance suggests that firms evaluate the supervision of social media through lens of operational risk and mentions several resources:

FFIEC Information Technology Examination Handbook

Supervisory guidance issued by the FFIEC or individual agencies.

Outsourcing Technology Services

Information Security


Actiance Plus Chatter

Take a look at what’s new: Vantage for Chatter

By actiance,   November 18, 2013

#TeamActiance has landed at Dreamforce 2013. In addition to being here to learn about the latest advances in social business and improving connections with customers, we’re excited to share that the event is also the coming out party for the latest addition to our platform – Vantage for Chatter!

Adoption of enterprise collaboration software, like Chatter, is on the rise. And why wouldn’t it be? Today’s consumers are social and collaborative in their personal and professional lives. While enterprise social software has finally matched the real-time pace of today’s communication habits, it poses unique challenges for IT and compliance stakeholders.

Vantage for Chatter addresses these challenges. And you, our loyal blog readers, and those who visit with us at Dreamforce, get a first look at the action. Vantage helps today’s companies drive social business initiatives by eliminating governance complexities, thereby smoothing the road to collaboration success. With Vantage for Chatter, organizations are able to:

  • Chatter Screenshot for Prezi 1 (2)Monitor Chatter content in real-time to mitigate the risk of potential data leaks or inappropriate content; this includes conversations that are edited or deleted
  • Be confident in their ability to capture and archive Chatter conversations, activities and files in order to meet virtually any governance requirement
  • chatter-blogBe prepared to efficiently search and retrieve Chatter content for legal and eDiscovery purposes

Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks! For those of you attending Dreamforce this week, please visit us at booth W236 in Moscone West to learn more. And if you can’t wait any longer, visit www.actiance.com/Vantage to learn more today.

Shutting down is NOT the answer. You’re addressing the wrong problem.

By nleong,   November 12, 2013

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article, “Big Banks May Block Traders from Chat Rooms,” highlights the perils of open communication between traders at different banks.  Collusion.  Interest-rate rigging.  Market manipulation.  All things that would make Gordon Gekko proud.

But, as we all know, technology can be a good thing.  It creates efficiencies, saves time and money (if you’re not engaged in illegal activities), and, more often than not, makes everyone’s life a lil easier.  Yes, the Libor scandal that has already resulted in five banks getting slapped with a collective $3.5 billion in penalties was facilitated by technology, but it needn’t have ended up that way.

The actions that a few take should NOT dictate what happens for the many.  Closing down the chat and group rooms that enable and facilitate communications, efficiencies, and the ability to do business isn’t the way to deal with rogue situations.

Instead, deal with them head-on.  There are some really simple ways to do this:

Actiance Vantage could’ve mitigated the effects of interbank chat room activities.  In particular, Vantage offers very granular chat room controls, including the ability to prevent certain individuals from communicating with their counterparts at other institutions.  Even if communications were permitted, an institution could set up Vantage to be on the lookout for certain codenames or sensitive words and send alerts to the relevant stakeholders when a match is hit.

So, instead of completely closing down chat rooms, it would be more efficacious to allow chat room access but to have better monitoring and enforcement controls in place.  Certainly, in a world flush with iPhones and Androids, the alternative scenario of traders using unsupervised or unsanctioned communications channels to do what they used to do in chat rooms is even scarier.

Additionally, not letting traders use chat rooms could have the unintended consequence of introducing delays in the flow of information so crucial to the financial industry.  Or, well, heck, if they can’t use chat rooms, they’ll go to the local bar and speak their mind.   And you know you can’t moderate that!

More important are the policies and procedures that banks rely on to meet their regulatory requirements.  Technology is the corollary to the story to make sure those policies and procedures are enforced.

As sad as it is to say, there will always be Gordon Gekkos in the world.  Greed has been around since the dawn of time and will continue to occasionally rear its head in the lucrative trading world.  However, let’s not retreat into a cave.  Technology should be embraced, especially if it can prevent the next Libor scandal from happening.

A Social Project Starts with the Business – Sample Stakeholder Questions

By Joanna Belbey,   July 25, 2013

consultantsToday’s post is by Sarah Carter, General Manager of Social Business, Actiance. You may connect with Sarah on Twitter @sarahactiance or via LinkedIn.

As the General Manger of Social Business, my team and I work with many firms across the United States, Canada and Europe while they are making the decision to use social media for their business. Naturally, each firm is different, but they all share the common need to determine how they plan to use social media effectively within their organizations. Here at Actiance, we’ve learned that fully defining those needs and requirements helps support a successful launch of a social business.

Actiance begins each social media engagement and compliance project with a series of stakeholder interviews. These interviews draw out the business objectives for the project, in order that social is not viewed as a separate or an adjunct to the business. These questions are tailored specifically for the business – whether that business is wealth management, business or retail banking, a mortgage or an insurance business. We believe that by including all the relevant stakeholders for the business – from the financial adviser, insurance agent, mortgage broker, social media team, compliance representatives and technology liaisons the business and project will benefit right from the start.

  • Who are your primary competitors? (names of companies)
  • Is there anything that your primary competitors do significantly differently than you?
  • Are they on social?
  • What are your Business Priorities for the next 6 ‐12 months? (Maintain clients? Grow existing clients? Attract new clients?)
  • What is your sales and marketing plan? Who is executing that?
  • What marketing materials are used? (Brochures? Promotions? What about outreach or inbound?)
  • What are the major challenges with the business? (Churn? Attracting new clients?)
  • Are any of your users currently “social”?
  • How “social” are your users now? For example, for users currently using LinkedIn, how would you rank their social media presence on a scale of 1‐4 (where 4 = socially mature)? What about other networks such as Twitter, or a websites, a blogs?)
  • What initial thoughts do you have on which networks might be used for a pilot, and why?
  • What time commitment are the end users likely to give to social per week? (30 minutes? 60 minutes 90 minutes?)
  • How many clients are your users currently connected to?
  • What type of content do you currently share with clients?
  • What medium is used?
  • How often is content shared?
  • Can existing content be leveraged?
  • Does your firm share non business content, such as your philanthropic works? Local events and news?
  • Who creates the content?
  • What does a successful social launch look like?
  • What are your goals? Metrics? ROI?

Of course interpretation of the answers, and building that into a full business plan is what takes experience, but by uncovering the needs of each group, defining metrics for success, and developing a plan that meets the unique needs of your organization, we’ve found that firms are more successful when they launch social business. Is it time consuming? Absolutely. But is it worth it? You bet!

Coffee? Let’s meet in Sydney… #TravelTuesday

By actiance,   February 5, 2013

Short blackTo say I have a deep relationship with Australia would be an understatement. I lived there in the 80s where I started my career in radio, TV and film. It’s where I met my wife, she was in charge of handing out the paychecks at a radio station where we both worked, (a very important person for a free-lancer to know), and our son was born in Royal North Shore hospital. It was all happening in Sydney in the 80s. What wasn’t happening in Sydney in the 80s was coffee.

In those days the typical cup of coffee involved boiling water and mixing it with a teaspoon of crystallized gunk from a jar. Instant bad karma and a complete affront to a caffeine-addled Yank accustom to finely brewed Columbia bean. If you went to a restaurant you could get an espresso. Try drinking espresso like Americans swill brewed coffee and you will test the limits of your nervous system like never before.

So you can imagine my delight when I returned down under in 2008 to discover coffee shops everywhere. Australia had become a café society! You couldn’t walk across the street without tripping over sidewalk-seated patrons happily sipping long blacks, short whites, lattes or cappuccinos. I wasn’t the only one who was delighted in this discovery. Both Starbucks and Gloria Jean were dead-set on cracking the coffee swilling Aussie market.

One failed, one flourished. The reason one failed and the other succeed is similar to why some companies fail to successfully leverage social media for their employees. They fail to be relevant and authenticate. Here’s where I’m going with this.

In 2008 Starbucks closed 600 coffee shops in Australia, while Gloria Jean continued to open more. The reason Starbucks failed is that they were irrelevant to the Aussie coffee culture. The Aussie coffee drinker doesn’t like brewed coffee, likes his sausage rolls and Lamingtons, and isn’t in interested in spiced pumpkin lattes in the fall and peppermint chai teas in December. To the Aussie, visiting a Starbucks wasn’t an authentic experience, it wasn’t true blue. On the other hand, Gloria Jean ‘aussie-fied’ by serving espresso based coffee drinks, Aussie tucker and provided an authentic, ‘fair dinkum’ experience.

When you’re crafting a social media plan for your company, you have to think in similar terms when creating content guidelines for your users. Start with these questions:

  • What does my audience what to hear?
  • How can I let my users have an authentic voice?
  • What is taboo in regards to compliance?

Each industry will have different cultural and business nuances that will need to be understood. Your plan will change and evolve with your market, but if you commit to staying relevant by listening to your audience and successfully communicate your compliance issues to your users, you’re on the path to success.

And if you’re wondering what a Lamington is…. they’re worth the 15 hour plane ride.


Belbey Blogs: New Guidance on Using Social Media at Retail Banks

By Joanna Belbey,   January 25, 2013

pic_JoannaThis week, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released “Social Media: Consumer Compliance Risk Management Guidance.  The FFIEC is asking for comments within sixty days.  You can download the 31-page document here.

Its release has created quite a stir within the banking industry.  A comprehensive article appeared on TheFinancialBrand.com, “Regulatory Shocker on Social Media in Banking Coming Soon” that summarizes the guidance quite nicely.

But . . . what’s so shocking?

We’ve been having the same conversations in the securities industry for three years.  And in those three years, firms have learned that there are three major areas of risk that need to be mitigated before deploying social media:

  • Security:  your IT department needs to prevent your firm’s proprietary and client information from being leaked out either inadvertently or maliciously from the enterprise.  They also need to ramp up malware protection.  That’s because social media users are susceptible to incoming threats as they view themselves as part of a tribe and tend to click on any link sent by a “friend.”
  • Compliance and Governance:  your legal and compliance departments already know that there are thousands of rules and regulations that govern the communications and advertising of publicly held corporations, firms in general, and bank specifically.  Take the securities industry as an example – the banking regulators aren’t issuing new rules and regulations around social media.  Social media is viewed as just another form of written communications.  Your compliance department is therefore challenged to interpret existing rules as they apply to social media and to develop and enforce firm policies.
  • Enablement:  your executive team is concerned about productivity and the bottom line.  Now that every employee can be the face of the business, you either have a powerful marketing tool or your worst nightmare.  Employees will need to be trained on how to use social media effectively to meet the firm’s goals, such as nurturing existing clients, attracting new business, recruiting, and brand awareness.

However, during the last three years, we’ve learned that all these risks can be mitigated by strong corporate polices, backed up with technology and training.

So far, so good.  Nothing new here.  Or is there?  In addition to what we’ve already seen from other regulators, the FFIEC specifically also calls for:

  • Creation of policies to address negative feedback or customer complaints, even if a financial firm chooses not to actively engage in social media.
  • Monitoring to protect the firm’s brand identity
  • Due diligence and oversight for third-party vendors that firms may hire in connection with social media

And the one that I find most interesting:

  • Processes and reporting to demonstrate how social media “contributes to the strategic goals of the institution.”

In other words, the FFIEC recommends that firms measure the ROI of social media.

It will be interesting to see the reaction that FFIEC gets from the industry.  I just hope that the banking industry can use some of the key learnings from the securities industry to streamline the processes to reap the benefits of “getting social.”

For more details on how to deploy social media within retail banking, you can also check out Belbey Blogs: Upcoming Guidance for the Use of Social Media for Retail Banking from FFIEC.

We’ve Seen the Future and It is Now

By kailashambwani,   January 21, 2013

Recently a customer in the financial sector told us they no longer had to justify the ROI of social media as a pre-requisite for using it for business; that debate was over. This is amazing considering just two years ago our financial institution customers were deciding if a) social media had any business value at all, and b) if Compliance would even allow its use.

In 2011 and 2012, organizations moved from discussing why and how they should use social to witnessing information workers use it in their daily business.  In 2013 we will see enterprises start to integrate social into their business processes.

Forward leaning companies recognize that social is a way of doing business, not a distinct activity or channel of communication. As such, social capabilities and practices need to be integrated into your enterprise systems – from CRM and content management to ERP and compliance.  A customer or prospect responds to a post made on LinkedIn, it should be noted in their CRM record – automatically.  A Financial Advisor sharing an interesting research article with their network should be able to do so right from the content management system-automatically. A fan makes a comment or product suggestion on your Facebook page? It should appear in your customer service or product management systems- automatically.

Gartner predicts that by 2015, the 20% of enterprises that employ social media beyond marketing will lead their industries in revenue growth.  A study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research found that by the year 2015, Generation Y spending will approach $2.5 trillion – and in 2018, the annual income of Gen Y-ers will surpass $3 trillion.

If you plan to do business with them, be social!

I’m looking forward to this year, as we are primed to help organizations unleash social business with a strong line-up of new products and services. In addition to extending and enhancing our technology platform, we are investing in experts to assist companies integrate our platform into their enterprise systems to successfully impact business processes.  The days of social being used as a single point solution by a few on their lunch breaks are truly over.

Many analyst firms are releasing numbers on expected growth and spending for social software, collaboration and IM platforms in 2013. Besides the challenge of social scale complexity, there are other trends that we at Actiance predict, notably around BYOD, compliance and more.

You can read more about these predictions here .

In future blogs I’ll share with you insights about the blurring of the line between personal and professional use of social, as well as content, compliance and distribution. Till then.

Farewell Live Messenger, Hello Skype

By Jeff Zacuto,   January 10, 2013

When I started my career, I couldn’t have imagined how social my online work world would become.

Things like LinkedIn®, Microsoft® Lync®, IBM® Connections, and Skype™ are so integrated into my workday that connecting, IM’ing, and blogging with colleagues are all as natural and effective as sitting face-to-face over coffee.

Just like new ways to keep in touch with my colleagues and friends have emerged, some headed for the sunset like long-time friend Microsoft Live Messenger. But don’t say “Bon voyage!” just yet. You can use your Live ID to move your Live Messenger account and contacts to Skype today.

And if you’re a Skype user who works in a regulated industry like financial services, or if you work for a company that has other strict legal or corporate governance requirements, Actiance has great news! With Vantage™ for Skype, you can use Skype on your company’s network to stay in touch with the folks you need to get things done in a safe and compliant way.

It gives your company the tools it needs to meet strict requirements for regulatory, legal, and corporate compliance across a wide variety of networks, including Skype. And for a limited time, existing Actiance customers using Vantage or USG to support Microsoft Live Messenger can enjoy special pricing on Vantage for Skype.

So go ahead and start a Skype chat with a buddy in Santiago, share the latest product news with a colleague in Paris, or send a vacation photo to a friend in Vienna. With the trusted governance the Actiance platform provides, you can be sure you’re keeping the good stuff in while keeping the bad stuff out.

Belbey Blogs: Overcoming Compliance Challenges to Social Media

By Joanna Belbey,   January 3, 2013

Today’s post comes from Joanna Belbey, Social Media and Compliance Specialist at Actiance.

pic_JoannaAs human beings, our behavior hasn’t changed for centuries. We naturally socialize. Socializing our buying decisions is something that we have done for centuries. Social media simply allows us to connect with those wider social groups—geographically—making our social groups more potent as our social interactions become public through social media.

As social media continues to evolve, so too does its usage and the regulations surrounding those professions adhering to compliance requirements. Starting in 2010, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued regulatory notices to provide guidance regarding the use of social media in the financial services profession, specifically Notice 10-06 and then in 2011, Notice 11-39.

Why haven’t more financial services firms embraced social media as part of their sales and marketing programs?

Some of the key reasons are regulatory.

FINRA, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and several other regulatory bodies outside the U.S., each impose strict guidelines and rules on the use of all electronic communications, including social media. This demands careful oversight of online communications and activities to ensure that financial advisors aren’t using social media channels inappropriately or without retaining records of all communications.

A sampling of Social Media-Related Notices and Rules

  • FINRA Regulatory Notice 10-06: Summary: Static content on social media sites and blogs are considered advertisements and need to be pre-approved. However, interactive content, like chat rooms, is considered non-static and does not require pre-approval by a registered principal prior to use.
  • FINRA Regulatory Notice 11-39: Summary: To answer some of the questions raised by Notice 10-06, this notice clarifies that it’s the content of the communication rather than the channel that is being reviewed. Firms are also subject to the “adoption” and “entanglement” theories regarding third-party posts, and that business communication through personal devices must be supervised and recorded.
  • NASD Rule 3010: Summary: Members must establish, maintain, and enforce written procedures for communications of registered representatives
  • IRS Circular 230: Summary: Tax professionals could be subject to penalties regarding written advice, including their use of social media such as blogs, and Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter comments.
  • New FINRA Rule 2210 (effective February 2013): describes various communications categories (institutional, retails, correspondence), and approval, review and record keeping requirements for each
  • SEC Rules 17a-3 and 17a-4: require written, enforceable retention policies, searchable index, viewable and readily retrievable, offsite storage, and storage of data on WORM (write once, read many) optical media

In addition to making sure they adhere to the rules and regulations, firms are also concerned about the risks of data leakage, malware, and viruses. However, as new technologies have emerged to address regulatory and security challenges, financial service firms are demonstrating to their senior management that the risks of using social media may be mitigated.

What it all boils down to is this. Before engaging in any social media activity for your firm, be aware of the regulations surrounding social media in a professional services firm. Take them into consideration and demonstrate that you have taken a thoughtful approach. Put the review process into place. And most importantly, identify an influential principal of the firm who will champion the effort. It’s worth the effort. As firms slowly adopt social media within their distributed teams as a means to reach out to clients and customers, they are beginning to see increases in new customers and revenues that more than offset their initial concerns about the risks.