FG15/4: Social media and customer communications: The FCA’s supervisory approach to financial promotions in social media
It’s twenty pages long so, as with any government financial document, chock full of specific details. Obviously, if you’re in the industry, you (or probably your compliance officer) should absorb it all. Today though, we’re just going to focus on the archiving part; the requirement to keep accurate records of who said what, when.
Section 1.25 cuts to the heart of the matter:
Financial Communications – Promotional or non-promotional?
In general, when using social media financial firms will have two types of communication; promotional and non-promotional. As the non-promotional communications do not involve a financial aspect it’s a non-regulated activity and do not require archiving.
However, anything that even has a hint of financial promotion probably falls under the regulations and thus needs archiving. Anything that “includes an invitation or inducement to engage in financial activity” is considered promotional. Be careful, a few words can turn an otherwise non-regulated communication into something that now falls under compliance.
Personal, or in the course of business?
Another factor is ‘in the course of business’. Are you communicating as a person, with your personal views? Or, are you communicating for business? Ensure there’s clarity, so that no one can mistake one for the other.
Just because it’s a “new” medium doesn’t mean that the old rules don’t apply. All the previous rules for factors such as misleading statements, clarity, and fairness are still in place. You need to consider the medium and the intended audience; disclaimers, emphasis and balance all need to be taken into account.
The guidelines go through many examples, showing what is compliant and what is non-compliant. By understanding these examples, and having proper internal policies and procedures in place, UK financial firms don’t have to be afraid of social media. Just make sure everything (including proper social media archiving) is in place BEFORE you start Tweeting and Posting!