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Social Media Compliance: What's Next in 2016?

shutterstock_137674289Compliance experts provide predictions in 2016
At Hearsay Social, we have the pleasure of working with some of the world’s leading financial services companies, many of whom are on the cutting edge of technology and compliance. As we start a new year, it is important that we are aligned with our partners and their 2016 priorities. So at the close of 2015, I reached out to a variety of thought leaders in social media compliance for financial services to hear what they had to say for this coming year.
Below are 3 key insights from these discussions:

1. Improving efficiency for compliance teams

Efficiency isn’t a new idea, but it is a big focus for compliance and supervision in the new year. As digital and social communications scale, compliance and supervision teams want to make sure that they are monitoring and reviewing content in a thoughtful, and consistent way.
A compliance leader from a diversified financial services company said his team’s goal for 2016 is “continuing to become more efficient in reviewing profiles.”  For them, a big part of that is taking advantage of new functionality that software companies such as Hearsay Social can provide to help them in this area.
Similarly, Gabriel Borthwick, assistant vice president of corporate ethics & compliance at MetLife said, “we’ll continue to focus on making the social media content review process more efficient to ensure that we’re engaging and communicating with our customers in as close to real-time as possible.”
As Mr. Borthwick implies, enhanced efficiency from a compliance team can have a tangible impact across the business. The more efficient a compliance team is at enabling communication, the more employees are able to communicate with their customers and prospects. Efficiency also lowers the cost and resources needed to have a scalable and effective social media program across the organization.

2. Expanding employee social media programs

In line with the goals of improving efficiency, there is a common focus across firms on expanding advisor social media programs to enable more advisors to use platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Hardy Callcott, partner at Sidley Austin LLP, shared “my sense is that firms’ focus in 2016 is in scaling their social media programs to cover all of their field organization; many firms have run successful pilot programs but now they want to expand those programs to much larger groups of employees.”
With compliance efficiencies, we are hearing that many firms want to focus on enabling more and more employees to leverage social media to engage with clients and prospects.
Chad Nichols, senior compliance manager at Janus Capital Group said “2016 will be a bit of a transition from firms being focused on entering the social media landscape to now trying to hone in on how to truly use it to benefit their business model.” He went on to say he “believes this will vary widely by use-case and firm, but overall [sic] expects a continuation of the growth of social into a core marketing function in our industry. Social has proven to be more than a “fad” and as I said in a recent presentation, our industry is realizing it’s a communication medium we can’t afford to miss.”
Metlife is looking to expand their social program in a different way. Mr. Borthwick said the focus on efficiency is also “to launch a social care program for our customers. We’ll be focused on how to build, staff, train, and develop the right team to meet our customers’ service needs directly through our corporate social media channels.”

3. Preparing for rule updates from FINRA

Although it has been a fairly static period for social media regulations, legal and compliance professionals always need to be on the ready for new or revised regulations that might quickly change our standards or ways of working. In line with the FINRA retrospective rule review and our recent discussions with some of the regulators, we expect regulators to closely review social media regulations this year. It’s likely that 2016 will bring renewed guidance providing greater clarity for some of the dated rules that require evolution due to rapid technology changes.
“I think a regulatory change in 2016 will be FINRA’s newly revised research rules, which may make it more difficult to discuss specific securities in electronic communications without those communications being deemed research reports.” says Mr. Callcott.
While it is challenging to prepare for the unknown, it is also great to hear when the regulators are reviewing their rules in context of the latest technology. With sites like Facebook and Linkedin changing regularly, it’s only natural that the rules and regulations must be re-evaluated regularly as well.
Thanks to everybody for sharing their goals and predictions for 2016.  Did I miss something that you’re focused on?  Please share in the comments below, or feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @YasminZarabi
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