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Industry Working Group Creates Framework for Building a Compliant Social Media Program [UK]

Framework provides actionable guidance on building, implementing a compliant social media sales and marketing program

September 24, 2015 – London – Following the release of the FCA’s updated Social Media Guidelines earlier this year, The Financial Services Forum and Hearsay Social® have today released a definitive framework for creating a compliant social media sales and marketing program for financial services companies. The framework is the result of a close collaboration with an industry working group of marketing and compliance executives made up of Axa Investment Managers, Baring Asset Management, Impax Asset Mangement, Jupiter Funder Management, Killik & Company, London and Capital and Shawbrook Bank Limited.

The key points discussed in the reference guide also will steer the agenda for today’s social media and compliance event in London organized by The Financial Services Forum. Industry leaders, including Richard Lawes, Senior Associate at the FCA, will discuss and share ideas on how to use new digital technologies to increase business value while remaining compliant.

The need for guidance is reflected in a survey conducted last year by PAM Insight, a wealth management industry group, in which 67 percent of UK advisors stated compliance and regulatory concerns as the biggest barriers to social media adoption. The FCA updated and expanded its 2010 guidelines earlier this year, following a consultation launched in August 2014 outlining ways in which businesses can use social media for financial promotions in a way that is “clear, fair and not misleading,” while also pointing to a current, industry-wide need for clear, action-oriented guidance on how to build an effective, compliant social media program that follows the new regulatory requirements.

The Financial Conduct Authority commented: “Our rules are media-neutral, to ensure that consumers are presented with fair and balanced information at each stage of the customer journey. Social media is a powerful communication tool and of significant value to firms. Our guidance is intended to help firms understand how to comply with the rules when communicating through social media – whether that’s via character-limited platforms or not.”

“While the FCA guidelines on social media provides the ‘what’ aspects of compliance, this reference guide provides a ‘how to’ perspective on what firms should actually do to follow the rules,” said Fiona Cornes, corporate affairs and group marketing director at Shawbrook Bank Limited and a member of the industry working group. “The guide helps to ensure that FCA regulations are considered while implementing social media, and also makes sure compliance requirements don’t inhibit the benefits of using social media to amplify core messages and develop meaningful relationships with customers.”

“This initiative is a direct result of need expressed by our members who wanted to develop a comprehensive reference document that will ensure companies can engage online in a compliant and safe manner,” said David Cowan, managing director of The Financial Services Forum. “And we were fortunate to partner with Hearsay Social who has advised and helped hundreds of global financial companies be compliant with regulations in the United States, UK, Europe and Asia.”

“It’s increasingly impossible to ignore the potency of social media as a sales and marketing channel, and the concept of social selling is gathering incredible momentum in the UK,” said Yasmin Zarabi, vice president of legal and compliance at Hearsay Social and a speaker at today’s event. “We want to make sure the financial services industry takes full advantage of this new social business era without being overwhelmed by compliance concerns.”

The Framework: Four Focus Areas of Compliance

The framework consists of four focus areas that financial services firm need to consider when developing and implementing an enterprise social media sales and marketing program. For each focus area, the reference guide provides key questions and recommendations for marketing and compliance teams to consider.

The four focus areas are:

  • Create and formalize a social media policy: Setting a formal policy focuses the company on the goals of using social media for business, as well as sets expectations for employees at all levels of the organization.
  • Train employees and provide opportunities for continuing education: A strategic, ongoing training program is essential to ensure advisors understand the policy, and are up-to-date on the latest social media best practices and functionalities.
  • Implement supervisory systems and controls to ensure compliance: An approval process that takes into consideration the immediate nature of social media ensures advisors can reap its benefits, such as the ability to share relevant content with their networks, while compliance teams maintain proper control over the content.
  • Establish a record-keeping system: Having a system in place that captures, archives and allows for the retrieval of all business communications on social media ensures compliance with FCA regulations.

“Social media and other digital communication channels are going to become as ubiquitous as email, and the advisors who ultimately succeed in business will be using these channels to interact with their clients, if they aren’t already,” said Stewart Conway, head of digital marketing at Jupiter Fund Management and a member of the industry working group. “We need to be prepared for that imminent future. This framework provides practical guidance for companies to implement compliance requirements in that context.”

To learn more, download the full reference guide.

About The Financial Services Forum

The Financial Services Forum is a worldwide connected community of financial services decision makers, sharing information, experience and expertise to improve individual and corporate marketing effectiveness.

Members are senior heads of department or marketing directors. Member benefits include over 60+ live events per year, access to our online Knowledge Centre, an archive of over 15 years of event resources and whitepapers and a subscription to Argent, our journal. We offer a variety of membership options to suit a wide range of large and small teams, as well as individuals. For more information, please visit www.thefsforum.co.uk/membership. We are currently offering a three-month free trial of our Online Membership, giving you access to all of our online resources.

About Hearsay Social

Hearsay Social provides the Predictive Social Suite for financial advisors and insurance agents across the world’s largest financial institutions, including seven of the top 10 global financial services companies and leading firms such as New York Life, Raymond James, Vanguard and Penn Mutual. Hearsay Social powers more than 115,000 financial relationship managers worldwide, allowing them to engage today’s social, mobile customer through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and mobile-first websites. Advisors receive unique client insights through multi-channel signals, and the predictive Content Library makes it easy to share the right content at the right time. Built-in enterprise integration and governance powers compliance and supervision for global firms, seamlessly addressing industry regulations and enforcing policy.

Hearsay Social is a SIFMA strategic partner, LIMRA Elite Strategic partner, GAMA partner and Efma Associate Partner, and has raised $51 million from Sequoia Capital, NEA and private investors. Named a 2015 CNBC Disruptor and a 2015 Best Place to Work in the Bay Area, the company is headquartered in Silicon Valley with dedicated local presences in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Toronto, London, Paris, Munich and Hong Kong.

Stay up to date on the latest Hearsay Social developments and news in social business and financial services by visiting the company’s blog, as well as its Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages.

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