News this week emerged that FINRA will be closely examining social media profiles of certain financial advisors. When stories like this come out, it is a great reminder of the nature of a highly regulated industries like financial services and insurance.
Thoughts of brand compliance permeate an organization more deeply during times likes these, but the subject is often on the minds of many individuals in financial services companies at all times. There are definitely steps that organizations in financial services can take to mitigate brand compliance risks. FINRA fines grew by approximately 15% in 2012. Advertising related fines were the 4th leading cause of FINRA fines in 2012, but they were the leading cause of fines in 2010 and 2011. There is year to year variability in what causes fines. The decline in fines in advertising in 2012 is closely related to a significant decline in Auction Rate Securities (ARS) cases by FINRA, which may be a non-sustainable trend. There’s good reason to believe that FINRA will continue to closely monitor advertising, particularly in the digital space.
The rise of communication channels available in the digital space and the resulting fragmentation of audiences means that content distribution has never been a greater issue for marketers as it is today. With a greater amount of channel options where marketers are needing to maintain a presence, the need for a centralized Multi-Channel Distributed Marketing Platform within regulated and compliance driven organizations has never been greater. The costs associated with not having one are only going to continue to go up.
Does the potential of FINRA fines, along with complexity of brand compliance, serve as good reasons to avoid digital, multichannel marketing? I have observed sentiment amongst some in the financial services industry that would be aligned with this thought process. However, this isn’t the biggest problem that I would see. I believe that a bigger concern should be the risk of a substantial decline in new client acquisitions and retention rates as competitors utilizing distributed marketing technologies attempt to sway your best prospects and customers away.
In terms of developing a brand compliant approach in social media, the Distributed Marketing Platform specifically addresses this at both a corporate and local level. Automated Campaign Scheduling is a key function of our Social Media Marketing module. With automated campaign scheduling, corporate marketing publishes pre-approved social media campaigns that consist of numerous content posts. Once published, financial advisors and local level agents can simply opt-in to a campaign and the software posts the content to the selected sites at the designated time intervals. Approval and permission management are key components of the process. Campaign posts can be entirely locked down, but administrators have the option of leaving portions open to local customization.
The platform offers a relevant, quality value proposition. It enables brand compliance but also serves as an asset in acquiring, retaining and cross selling business. As audiences move more digital and it becomes more pressing to capture attention in multiple channels digitally, the need to optimize, manage and distributed content effectively will be amplified. The highest cost may very well be not acclimating to the burgeoning multichannel marketing environment.