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Marketing and Compliance Teams Partner for Social Business Success at #FTFSMAC 2015

ftfLast week, the Financial Technologies Forum hosted its annual Social Media and Compliance in Financial Services (#FTFSMAC) conference in New York, and it was every bit as informative and engaging as in years past. The conference featured many interesting presenters and topics around social media and compliance, and brought together representatives from across banking, wealth management, and insurance to discuss and share best practices for successful and compliant social media programs.
I was delighted to lead a session, “The Friend Request: An Honest Conversation Between a Social Media Manager and a Compliance Manager,” and picked up three key takeaways from the event.
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Cross-functional partnership is key

Social business programs must include partnership between cross-functional teams to be successful. Several presenters stated that assembling working groups that consists of members from across marketing, compliance, communication, and practice management is key to the ongoing success of any social business program. In terms of building a successful team, Adam Sherman (@adsher1), Social Media Director, New York Life Insurance, said “everyone has to be on the same page.”  Their organization does this with regular working group meetings that include a combination of all of these functions. When they first started, they met weekly, but were able to scale it to monthly meetings as the program progressed. Similarly, Rick Apicella and Rocco Procopio, both from Morgan Stanley (@morganstanley), employs a cross-functional committee that meets every other week. And “for any effective social media program to work, marketing and compliance must walk hand-in-hand,” says Mr. Apicella.

Change is constant

If there is one thing we’ve learned in this business is that change is bound to happen. According to the presenters, it’s important to know of these industry changes so that you can adapt your programs and policies. Michael Bello, Compliance Director for MassMutual (@MassMutual), joked that the social networks change so much that they were updating their policies as often as once per month.
Joking aside, in the session “Keeping Up with the Cool Kids: Staying Current While Staying Compliant” one panelist mentioned that there had been over 350 “meaningful” social network changes in 2014. These included changes to the social network interfaces, API functionality, new features, and new social networks. He told us it takes a team effort across an organization to keep up with these changes. Others stated it also takes relying on technology vendors, like Hearsay Social, to stay informed of the changes.

Always be educating

FTF’s core message was that education is key for enterprise social media programs. The group discussed two key areas for education: 1) educating compliance and supervision teams on social networks’ functionality, and 2) regularly training employees on a firm’s social media policies and practices.
Moreover, “the key to effective supervision is understanding what you are supervising,” said Michael Bello, Compliance Director, MassMutual. In similar fashion, Corina Roy (@corinaroy), AVP, Digital Experience, MassMutual described what the education process was like when they first started. She even encouraged some of the compliance and supervision professionals to set up their own social profiles so they could really understand the in-and-outs of the social networks.

In addition, regulations require annual training and attestation of a firm’s social media policy, but some say annual training is not enough. Lori Hale, Vice President, Senior Corporate Compliance Officer for Bank of the West, says to make information easily available for social media users as well as provide quarterly updates. Likewise, in-person events, such as advisor sales conferences, are another great opportunity for education. Ms. Roy, for example, has conducted multiple sessions at her firm’s annual sales meetings.
Overall, this year’s FTF SMAC conference fostered great conversation and information sharing on the compliance and social media topics from many levels. It was valuable to hear what different organizations are doing, and I look forward to hearing how they evolve at next year’s event!
If you missed the event, you can still follow the conversation at #ftfsmac.
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Social media bridges sales, marketing, and compliance: Recap from #FTF_SMAC

This post was co-authored by Yasmin Zarabi (Sr. Director of Legal, Hearsay Social) and Stephen Selby (Assistant Vice President, Social Media, LIMRA).

We’re still excited to have met so many curious people and led a session at last week’s Social Media and Compliance in Financial Services (#FTF_SMAC), an event hosted in New York by the Financial Technologies Forum (FTF).

Event attendees included leading financial firms (including New York Life Insurance, MetLife, and Prudential Financial), social media innovators (including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google), and influential third-party organizations and government (including the SEC and LIMRA).

In short, the conference was brimming with social media thought leaders from the financial services and social media industries.

We were delighted to lead a session, “Overview of Social Media Regulation in the Finance and Insurance Industries,” with two of the industry’s leading practitioners of social sales and marketing: Sueanne Comerford (Social Media Director, MetLife) and Kyle Marie Woods (Marketing Strategist, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans).

Here are a few of our key takeaways:

Social media creates an opportunity to combine marketing and compliance goals.

It’s commonly accepted among marketers that the holy grail is to send the right message to the right person at the right time. If you think about it, that’s not really at odds with the compliance team’s mission. In fact, as it relates to suitability, compliance teams are dedicated to empower marketing to do that safely and efficiently. In today’s highly connected, transparent world, technology that manages, monitors and enables this business process to align compliance and marketing is much more easily attainable.

The best sales relationships do one thing: sell people the right product.

Similar to the point above, it is ultimately the job of a salesperson to find the right product that fits their particular customer’s needs. If you sell the right product to the right people, then you will have happy repeat customers. Adding in the compliance perspective, selling the right thing to the right people should be equivalent to meeting your suitability obligations.

Social media bridges sales, marketing, and compliance. 

Here’s the big conclusion, drawing from both points above: One of the great, unintended consequences of social media is that it brings together formerly siloed areas of an organization, including sales, marketing, and compliance. When these groups work together, business results and productivity get unlocked. Take Thrivent, for example. The Fortune 500 financial firm realized early on that a compliance strategy based on screenshots would never be scalable. By implementing a social platform instead, the company experienced a 75% reduction in its effort to get pre-approved content to the field.

As a result of this implementation, Compliance is happy because they’re doing less work to keep track of everything. Marketing is happy because they’re controlling the message going out to the field. And Sales is happy because they don’t feel hampered or restricted by either Compliance or Marketing. The field can focus on what they do best: reaching customers and closing deals.

All in all, we found FTF’s event to be a huge success, and we look forward to the next!