Posts tagged Compliance
Are you still just dabbling with social media and digital networking? Oh, maybe you’ve created a LinkedIn profile, but your photo is a cropped pic from a party, and your personal headline, summary and experience sections read more like a job-hunting resume than a networking magnet. What’s more, you don’t use social media to discover valuable information to help generate sales!
A recent Putnam Investment study shows some 81 percent of financial advisors now use social media for business. Frankly, I find this percentage a little high since at nearly every speaking event people tell me they are still reluctant to use social media. The most common reason I hear for this hesitancy? Compliance. Yep, that wonderful regulatory requirement we have in financial services.
Yet it’s important to remember that compliance is not a barrier. It’s just a hurdle or a speed bump. With some 75 million Generation D (digital) investors, and their $27 trillion in assets, you just cannot ignore the social space.
It’s equally important to also remember that social selling is not about being popular. It’s about sales! Likes, friends, and connections are only worthwhile if they help you build your business.
So, how do you get past those compliance concerns? Start with baby steps. First, understand there are some simple and easy rules to follow. Second, use common sense! The same regulations and rules that apply to your other sales and marketing efforts also apply to the digital space.
To provide more specifics and examples, I recently broke out the Mastering Compliance unit from my Social Selling for Financial Advisors eCourse. In Mastering Compliance, I show you how to navigate the compliance waters by covering:
- Rules and regulations
- The difference between static and interactive content
- Three rules you MUST obey, and
- Online conduct rules and monitoring requirements
I know compliance is not something to be taken lightly. After some 25 years in the industry, the last 10 of which I have spent concentrating on the social space, I understand your pain! That’s why I’m also currently offering the Mastering Compliance unit at NO COST.
I want you to feel comfortable using the digital world for social selling. Then, even if all you do is maximize your LinkedIn profile, you will be heading in the right direction. Later, you can up your game and learn how to jump more fully into the digital conversation.
So, stop dabbling! Compliance and social selling can co-exist!
Today’s connected world requires businesses to include an active digital presence as part of their B2B or B2C marketing plan. Yet, unlike many professionals, advisors in the financial services industry must incorporate one little extra step with that activity: Compliance. Okay, little may be an understatement!
Not to worry. I feel your pain. I get the need for qualifiers, and I know sometimes source material needs a footnote and other times it requires a full compliance review.
However, the process isn’t scary. It just takes some basic know-how and advance planning. To move from a state of paralysis to active digital marketing engagement, just keep these seven tips in mind to navigate compliance:
- Public and Accessible – Internet communication is typically open and easily searchable. As such, compliance considers all web content and social media posts to be the same as in-person or written communication. Be mindful and discerning with your communication content and tone.
- Fixed or Evolving – Digital content is considered either static or interactive. Static content requires pre-approval for fixed content such as your website copy, blogs, newsletters and LinkedIn profiles. Interactive content typically does not require compliance approval and includes evolving commentary and conversations in social media posts, tweets, and updates.
- Just Like Scrapbooking – Compliance regulations require all social media activity and contact be supervised and archived by your firm or a third party for three years. Archiving requirements are dictated by your broker-dealer or firm’s compliance department and can also include stipulations set forth by the SEC, FINRA, FFIEC and/or CFTC.
- Best Advice is NO Advice – Avoid giving advice or making investment recommendations on any of your digital content, be it social media or website copy. The best advice is personal and personalized; neither is possible with online content.
- Not a Popularity Contest – Although likes, recommendations, and endorsements may seem nice and make you feel popular, they are considered client testimonials and are prohibited by the SEC. Fortunately with LinkedIn, you can hide “endorsements” and “recommendations” with the click of a button. Keep in mind, advisors can include third-party review sites, but it’s best to make these hyperlinks so the information is current (which means it can include negative commentary).
- Mind Your Links – Curating and sharing third party content on your social media sites and in your blogs or newsletters has many perks. You don’t have to create everything and you can pass along newsy or noteworthy information within a personalized context. However, you must know your source, and realize you can be liable for the content if it is false or misleading. Because of this liability, some compliance departments may need to review any linked content.
- Create a Policy – Every company, be it in financial services or not, should have a digital communication or social media policy. This can be done as a stand-alone policy or as part of your general HR documentation. In either case, the policy should define all aspects of your online presence by covering website content (and blogs) plus all social media interactions. You can have your employees help draft one if your company doesn’t yet have a policy. Or, if you do, make sure your employees are comfortable and engaged with the policy. A digital communication policy-literate workforce, is a compliant one.
Compliance and regulatory rules and stipulations should not keep you from participating in online engagement. You just need to keep in mind the rules of the game, and when necessary, allow time for compliance to review content. We are well into the digital age of marketing and communication; make sure you’re a savvy participant!
A strong online presence starts with a well-designed website, especially for financial advisors as more and more people are turning to the web for financial advice and information about firms.
You may already have a website, but it is working as well as it could to effectively market you and your firm? Are you wondering if your site is ready for a refresh? Here’s a good checklist to help determine if it’s time for an upgrade.
Your website doesn’t reflect that you’re keeping up with best practices in web design.
We’ve all seen those websites—outdated fonts, broken images, and confusing navigations. Make sure your site showcases that your firm is equipped to handle the modern-day needs of your clients.
You’re not seeing results from your website. Ever.
Your website should be a tool where you effectively market your business. Whether it’s placing easy call-to-action forms for prospects to get in touch with you, or simply having easy-to-find contact information, your website should help you drive new business and retain existing clients.
Clients can’t find the information they need on your site.
If visitors of your website can’t find what they are looking for quickly, they will become frustrated and ultimately leave your site before contacting you. Ensure your site’s navigation is well thought out and allows users to quickly and efficiently find what they are looking for.
Site optimization is low – meaning your organization is left in the dust when potential clients are searching for providers.
Is your site SEO-friendly? Can you create searchable URLs? If not, you may be missing out on major potential for business growth. For example, a Pew Internet survey found that 91% of online adults use search engines to find information on the web.
Your website lacks valuable tools for your readers.
Are you providing as much value as possible to your readers with tools like financial calculators? Giving your audience helpful tools will keep them on your site longer, increasing the opportunities for conversion.
When viewing on a mobile device or tablet, your website is a mess.
More than 1.2 billion people access the web from their mobile devices, and 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile to give visitors a seamless experience.
Social media is still something you’re considering.
Stop considering—your firm is falling behind if you’re not on social media, and you should be connecting the digital experience for your clients on your website, too. Now that social media can be archived to meet compliance expectations, there is no excuse not to have a social strategy.
You have social media in place, but can’t push your website content to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Financial website platforms make publishing the content from your website to your social networks as easy as the click of a button. Keep your readers engaged and draw in new users with instant social push.
The content on your website is outdated.
Your website should constantly be refreshed with new, relevant content, including videos. Ensure your website platform allows you to have ready-access to fresh content.
Making updates to your website is challenging and time consuming.
Making updates to your website should be a painless process. Consider investing in a website with drag-and-drop functionalities that don’t require complicated coding to make simple updates.
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these scenarios, it may be time to consider updating your website!