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Partnering with global leaders in security and archiving to offer seamless and scalable social media compliance

Today we are excited to announce that we have expanded our partnership program with global leaders in security and compliance: Autonomy, Daegis AXS-One, Presensoft, Proofpoint, and Symantec. Through these partnerships, we are able to offer our customers the easiest to implement and most scalable social media archiving and compliance solution.

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In order to deliver an advanced solution for financial advisors to be successful on social media, Hearsay Social must help firms address regulatory compliance at massive scale. Regulations established by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) require that financial services firms keep a record of broker dealers’ and investment advisors’ social media activity in a Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) archive.
The partnerships that we have in place with leading archiving solutions allow our customers to implement enterprise-wide social business initiatives with Hearsay Social while leveraging their already-existing investments in technology and compliance:

“With so many conversations happening between our reps and clients on social media, it is essential for our organization to work with partners who have a reliable system for storing and managing those conversations. Easily integrating with our existing systems, Hearsay Social allows us to manage social media communications happening across the company.”
— Patrick Cuillo, Compliance Officer at Raymond James.

See the full press release and learn more about how Hearsay Social enables social media compliance for the financial services industry:

Reporting from the SIFMA Compliance and Legal Society Annual Seminar

It’s an exciting time to be working on social compliance at Hearsay Social. Not only are we a SIFMA strategic partner, but we also just announced today that we now power social marketing success and regulatory compliance for Ziegler, a specialty investment bank and a leading financial services organization.

Dedicated to serving Hearsay Social customers and leading the way in social compliance, I recently traveled to Miami, Florida to attend the SIFMA Compliance and Legal Society Annual Seminar. The panel on emerging technologies like social media was very well-attended with panelists from Vanguard, Fidelity, RBC Capital Markets, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Bingham McCutchen, and FINRA.

Below, I share my five most important takeaways from the social media panelists and my conversations with compliance and legal professionals whom I met at the event.

1) Don’t fear the Like button (in most instances).

  • Since the SEC issued its Risk Alert on Investment Adviser Use of Social Media in January, many journalists have sensationalized the guidance, construing it to mean that all instances of the Like button in the financial industry would constitute prohibited client testimonials for SEC-registered Investment Advisers.
  • Panelists stressed that this alarm was not the intention of the SEC and that they expect FINRA to clear up the confusion surrounding the Like button in their next notice. Essentially, the Like button cannot be banned by financial services across the board.
  • Only in very limited and specific situations could a client clicking an adviser’s post (as opposed to an adviser’s overall page) create a problem. Even then, the content of the post would be determinative in whether or not liking a post would be considered a client testimonial.

2) Firms must consider employee privacy and provide sufficient disclosure about what will be retained by the firm.

  • Many publications have featured stories about job applicants being asked to provide social network passwords to potential employers, which has been quickly denounced as a breach of privacy.
  • Likewise, the panel discussed the NLRB’s second social media report, detailing cases in which employees were fired for protected, concerted activity, like talking about work conditions or pay with co-workers in the scope of employment around a virtual water cooler (i.e. social media sites).
  • The takeaway for financial firms is that they must clearly state a code of employee conduct in their social media policies. However, social policies cannot be overly broad so as to “chill speech.”

3) Employee collaboration tools and compliance solutions to support them are top of mind with the FINRA Social Media Taskforce and several member firms.

4) Firms want more retrieval functionality to quickly access their social data for audits or e-discovery requests.

  • One panelist said that technology integrations are key to efficient retrieval of social data.
  • Compliance officers want to be able to pull up archived content and approval records quickly with full threads, lots of filtering functionality, and more.
  • Hearsay Social financial services customers use our compliance module, which shows comments to reviewers in context, classifies social media content by type, and offers instantaneous, self-service export of archived data, along with several other features for complete compliance.

5) Revisions to proposed FINRA Rule 2210 are out now.

  • Last week FINRA issued a response to comments on its Proposed FINRA 2210, which we wrote about in an article for Financial Advisor Magazine back in August.
  • Under the new rule, interactive posts/tweets will no longer be classified as “public appearances” but the distinction between static and interactive content and their differing pre-approval requirements will remain.
  • Posts/tweets will not need to be pre-approved or filed with the FINRA Department of Advertising (but must still be monitored).
  • Advisers’ social media profiles and other static content must still be pre-approved and monitored.

Many thanks to the panel’s moderator and our strategic partner, SIFMA, for putting on such a candid and timely panel. We look forward to attending more of these events and working every day to better serve you, our customers in the financial services industry.

Recent action by SEC – What it means for Compliance Officers

Last Wednesday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Anthony Fields, an Illinois-based independent advisor, with offering more than $500 billion in fictitious securities to his LinkedIn connections. (The SEC simultaneously issued three Risk Alerts. More on those can be found here.)

According to the SEC, Fields made “guarantees” to potential investors and tried to sell them specific financial products via LinkedIn. He also provided false and misleading information to the public concerning his company’s assets, clients, and operations. He projected himself as a FINRA-registered broker-dealer, even though he wasn’t licensed.
This was a case of attempted fraud, pure and simple: the man was not registered with the SEC, and the securities he attempted to sell did not exist.
Robert B. Kaplan, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit, released a statement saying “Fraudsters are quick to adapt to new technologies to exploit them for unlawful purposes.” Some reporters misinterpreted that statement and sounded the alarms on social media—citing new platforms of communication as breading grounds for consumer exploitation.
Let us be clear. New channels of communication are not the problem. Consumers/investors can’t be defrauded without a person behind the deceit. And fraudsters will find a way to approach their victims, if not via social media, then through in-person meetings, phone calls, email, or any other mode of communication.
So, even though social media isn’t the cause of the fraud, what can consumers can do to protect themselves? Understanding any platform that one uses, implementing appropriate privacy controls, and using the same common sense and intuition that we would for in face-to-face interactions are key.
Key Takeaways
Financial institutions can also protect consumers by closely monitoring advisor use of social media. In the case of enterprise-scale use of social media, technology is crucial to preventing infractions of SEC and FINRA regulations and preventing fraud. Equally important, social media empowers advisors to communicate with consumers through a new productivity tool.
The Hearsay Social Compliance Module is designed to prevent this type of incident for our customers. If Fields had worked for a Hearsay Social customer, his “guarantees” to potential investors would have been picked up as potential infractions and the specific product recommendations would have been flagged in our Supervision and Real-time Remediation features. And if Fields had projected himself as working for a Hearsay Social customer but didn’t, our patent-pending Rogue Page Finder would have picked up his profile.
The SEC and FINRA have made it it clear that they will not tolerate fraud, no matter whether it occurs over the phone, over email, or over social media. Compliance Officers should make sure they are deploying an enterprise-wide compliance solution soon.