Social Media Serves Up the Good, the Bad and the Exciting
Social media isn't just for kids anymore. It has become mainstream and we receive more questions about it from our advisers each year. However, in a highly regulated industry such as financial services, it is critical that we maintain strict compliance procedures.
CUSO Financial Services LP addressed this issue very cautiously. But realistically and optimistically as well, following guidelines established by FINRA.
In addition, we have developed website banner ads that our credit union investment programs may use to promote investment workshops as well as a compliance-approved financial management center planning tool, which is easily accessible from the financial institution's website. The FMC allows people to use a simple online questionnaire to assess their own financial situation relative to various life stage goals and it enables credit unions to create awareness of investment programs. While this might not be strictly social media, it serves the same purpose. It provides an interactive and educational method that helps prospective clients see for themselves, on their own 24/7 timeline, where their financial well-being stands.
Blogging, on the other hand, can be problematic. Our guidelines are clear: blogs are considered advertising and as such, must be approved in advance. Much like e-newsletters and brochures these can be used as one-way educational vehicles, but comments sections are not allowed. A credit union could adapt already approved investment newsletter content for a blog, but will then be timely? Does this meet the style standards that blogs have? Blog-type Web pages are approved on an exception basis, and for most advisers, this would be too time-consuming of a promotional method anyway. Online videos require full review and approval in advance as well.