Social Media and Today’s Financial Advisor
Keeping up with social media is not easy, says Sarah Carter, vice president of marketing at Actiance, a California communications compliance firm that was known as FaceTime Communications until January.
Since the beginning of this year, the big three — Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, have made 528 changes to their sites.
“My LinkedIn profile has fundamentally changed over that time. Twitter and Facebook seem to change every day.” The rapid rate of change makes it a challenge for firms to figure out what is static and what is interactive, to meet FINRA guidelines. It also points out the importance of advice from most compliance professionals — get a small group of stakeholders into a room, hash out the business expectations of social media and get moving…if your planning takes six months the target will have moved.
Actiance, which has been in the business of real-time communication for 10 years, worked with regulators such as the SEC and FINRA in the U.S., the FSA in the UK and IIROC in Canada to help them understand what was technically possible as communications evolved from email to instant messaging to unified communications and then to social media.
It’s about time. Carter said there are more than 80,000 financial advisors on LinkedIn.
“You won’t find many from Merrill Lynch or UBS, but more from smaller organizations, or they will lurk on the site and wait for their companies to move ahead.” Actiance has a number of pilot programs going with larger broker dealers and wealth management firms.
“A lot are concerned that users don’t know how to use social media well. We are working on ROI for some organizations in pilots of a few hundred users and then they will roll it out it to a larger group.”
The company provides a secure gateway for web sites and applications and controls over the content posted to o blogs, wikis, webmail, and social networking sites.
“A lot of large organizations don’t want a point solution,” said Carter. “We have one firm that has rolled out our solutions across 120,000 seats. They may be using a unified communications platform such as Microsoft’s Office Communications Server, now Lync, Lotus SameTime from IBM, Bloomberg Professional and Instant Bloomberg or the YellowJacket OTC negotiations platform along with Skype, IM and social media. “They want to set one policy and have it apply across all those different platforms.”
The company is now launching Socialite Engage which lets distributed teams share content, interact with clients and analyze the impact of content on social media sites. It has been in beta but will be available on general release this month.
Socialite Engage brings very detailed control over 160 different features on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
“When you go to LinkedIn you can do things like Share and Like or Recommend or Join groups. We have control of all those different features. ‘Like’ according to FINRA can be viewed as an endorsement, so we can turn off the Registered Rep’s ability to like or give or accept recommendations. FINRA considers profiles to be static content. We can run any changes that a rep wants to make to his or her profile through compliance. Then it can’t be posted until it is approved. Or you can turn off access to Farmville, or allow people access from noon until 1 p.m.”
Carter expects rapid growth in the use of social media by financial services groups this year.
“In the last two months it has really started moving even more quickly. We have been working with Forrester Research on a wealth management whitepaper and and overnight we had 352 inbound requests it. The adoption rate of social media is much faster than for email or IM. LinkedIn has two new users every second. Facebook when from zero to 150 million users in five years.”
Actiance provides access to the big three — LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and can allow access or block it to another 1,006 social media networks. the rest. It plans to provide controlled access to YouTube, fast-growing in popularity among financial advisors who have discovered the power of video. It is also looking providing access to several specialized social media sites including several aimed at high net worth families. and at financial advisors.