5 Must-Haves to Look for From Your Social Media Archiving Provider

By Amy McIIwain, President, Financial Social Media on Thursday, June 16th, 2011

(For more on social media archiving, compliance, and best practices, check out the webinar preview at the end of this post.)

Today, with more and more firms evaluating and entering into social media, it stands to reason that FINRA & SEC rules governing social media and archiving solutions will play a bigger role in the professional lives of Financial Advisors and Advisors. In fact, you may be feeling enormous pressure right now to begin leveraging social media in your practice. That’s because an increasing number of clients are demanding that their financial advisors communicate with them through some form of social media—and it is, after all, a client’s prerogative as to how they’d like to receive their communications. 

That said, when you’re enlisting the services of a social media archiving provider, there are five essential questions you must ask. These questions will let you know whether the provider offers all the “must haves” that are necessary to do the job right.

1. Can the provider archive, supervise and make communications discoverable?

Of course, by now advisors understand that the definitive source of FINRA guidance on Social Media Web Sites is Regulatory Notice 10-06, published in January 2010. In this document, FINRA made it clear that online communications, including of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, are the same as traditional written communications. Meaning, the appropriate action for this content is that it needs to be archived, supervised and made discoverable. 

2. What about the provider’s pre-review and approval capabilities?

Regulatory Notice 10-06 also provided guidance on:

  • Websites – considered advertisements

  • Communications sent to 25 or more prospective customers – sales literature

  • Password-protected websites – sales literatures

  • Chat room discussions – public appearances

Additionally, there are NASD Rule 3010, which addresses a firm’s supervisory obligation to review correspondence; and NASD Rule 2210, which addresses a firm’s advertisement pre-review and approval obligations.

In order to satisfy these rules, archiving providers have developed several solutions that are currently available in the marketplace. You’ll find that most archiving providers offer these solutions, and can effectively assist FINRA-regulated clients in meeting their supervisory obligations to review correspondence under NASD Rule 3010. 

3. Does the provider have hold and release functionality?

Furthermore, most of the available solutions have built-in hold and release functionality for the social media accounts of associated persons who are already set-up in your system. This capability enables your business to meet its advertisement pre-review and approval obligation under NASD Rule 2210 (b). Make sure your provider is up to speed.

4. Do they have surveillance and retention of data capabilities?

There has been a lot of discussion lately around two elements—surveillance and retention of data. Today’s solution providers have built product features that act as surveillance tools, monitoring any use of an associated person’s social media accounts wherever the account is accessed. These features are a “must have” if your firm wants the ability to identify non-compliance via activities that are prohibited in their social media policy. For example, what about unapproved updates to profiles or recommendations (testimonials) on LinkedIn sites that have occurred outside of the broker/dealer’s distributed technology? Surveillance and retention are essential if you are to prevent regulatory “surprises”.

5. Can providers handle the specific demands put on RIAs?

RIAs have their own set of regulations, SEC Rule 17a-4, that have requirements for indexing, time stamping and verification functionality. Solutions providers are aware of these rules and have solution sets in place to accommodate them.

With these five “must haves,” it’s important to note that the most compelling fact is not that archiving solutions enable firms to monitor activity that is prohibited. Rather, it’s the fact that these solutions enable FAs and Advisors to empower their businesses to leverage social media. The shift is on; it’s a move from a reactive, prohibition-based environment to one that is proactive and consultative to your customers.

Through this new set of lenses, it’s possible for your business to construct a meaningful social media policy; design strategies and tactics that advocate your brand; and enable you to engage with customers, peers and prospects. These actions result not only in building new awareness for your brand and business, but also in extending and constructing new relationships as well as new revenue opportunities.

Social media is here and not just a fad. Using the appropriate social media archiving solutions can bring the power of “social” to the forefront of your business.

Bruce recently co-hosted a webinar (see preview below) with ByAllAccounts on social media compliance, archiving solutions and best practices. Guest presenters also included Blane Warrene, CEO, Arkovi and Zach Hedges, CEO, CaptureTrackConvert (CTC). The webinar will be available on-demand Monday, June 27 on the ByAllAccounts Website S.M.A.R.T. Decisons page. To request a copy of the replay or presentation slides, please email Gary DeAsi at gdeasi@byallaccounts.com. 

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