The 2013 FINRA Annual Conference just wrapped up yesterday and judging by the packed house at the two social media-related sessions, the topic is still a hot one. Much like the last few years, the industry is grappling with what to do with social. “To allow or not to allow?” was clearly on the minds of everyone in the room.
Somewhat surprisingly, there’s still a lot of folks who don’t allow any access to social media (I’d ballpark it at around 1/3 of the people). Then, you’ve got another third that only allow limited or selective access (e.g., only business card-type info on LinkedIn). But for even these guys, they admitted they’d have to “release the hounds” eventually, with “eventually” being sooner rather than later.
FINRA itself is becoming more educated on social networking trends and capabilities and responding accordingly. Just a few months ago, Rule 2210 (Communications with the Public) went into effect. Realizing that the power and allure of social relies on the dynamic, interactive nature of the medium, Rule 2210 specifically exempts from pre-approve things like Facebook posts and tweets that don’t make any financial or investment recommendation or otherwise promote a product or service of the firm.
Some may say the financial industry is moving too slowly, but hey, baby steps are better than no steps at all. After watching the industry get annihilated five years ago, a little bit of caution and conservatism perhaps is not a bad thing. The main point is that the industry realizes social media is not a flash in the pan and that it’s here to stay. The industry is embracing it, just at its own pace.
Which means it’s a wonderful opportunity for vendors like Actiance to help these firms meet their regulatory obligations. Actiance’s sweet spot is financial services and has been for over 12 years. We relish the role of advising the “newbies” on how to leverage social and to do so compliantly. We’ve been to a bunch of these FINRA events so we know what keeps compliance officers up at night and what it takes to allay those fears.
Sometimes you need that lil bit of hand-holding to cross the finish line. No shame in that. In this day and age of global interdependencies, going it alone is more difficult than ever before. Maybe that’s why we friend, connect, and follow. Social makes looking for new business opportunities (or that specialty bacon) much easier.