A year ago FINRA, the regulator that oversees brokers and other financial advisors, released guidelines for social media usage. Since then, financial advisors have carefully tip-toed into the social media landscape, thanks to financial networking sites like LinkedFA.com and Smarsh.

A Year of Avoiding & Embracing Social Media

Smarsh reports that in the past year, they’ve seen a significant number of customers adopt social media compliance solutions. But, as we recently reported, many companies are still not allowing social media sites to be accessed from company networks. A recent study by the Aite Group revealed that 84% of advisor firms prohibit the use of social media, citing compliance concerns.

As a result, firms who are both ignoring the tremendous business benefits of social media and facing increased risk by failing to recognize that their employees are likely using these tools in some form, will be unprepared to embrace the evolving communications landscape, like smartphones and tablet devices

Though the empowered employee is helping companies innovate at all levels, for highly regulated industries, like financial are learning the hard way to embrace social media and are turning to SMARSH to deploy solutions that meet FINRA’s compliance demands, while dramatically simplifying oversight. Some are abandoning traditional brokerage firms and starting their own, so that they have more freedom to send tweets and prospect clients online, within regulatory guidelines, of course.

Still FINRA’s guidelines are still rather ambiguous where social media is concerned, allowing for slight distinction between interactive communication and static postings. As companies evolve to embrace social media as a part of it communication strategies, FINRA's guidelines may have to evolve as well, so as to make sure that all communications are compliant, but also allow companies the flexibility to design policies that are clear and flexible over time.