Social media presents many challenges with lots of professions, but the financial services sector really gets the 1-2-punch every day. As much help as compliance can and should be, there is an equal amount of yucky we must go through to make sure the world of compliance “feels” warm and fuzzy which is vastly different from consumers actually BEING “warm and fuzzy”. A balancing act that is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it is one of the reasons consumers can’t find their favorite agent/advisor on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – it’s just too much bullshit for them to go through.
I recently assisted an advisor with his LinkedIn profile. Knowing he had a pretty tight compliance policy with regard to social media, the safest way to make sure his LinkedIn profile would be compliant would be to use the words the compliance department already wrote for his website. This, my friends, is called “logic”. Logic, however, is completely lost when talking with so many compliance officials because this advisor’s LinkedIn profile was rejected due to using “unapproved language” on the profile. Say what?
When I pressed the compliance officer on how the language could be “inappropriate” this person shared that compliance must provide all the language being used. I explained that the language was the exact copy from the already-approved website that the compliance department created for the advisor and after a moment of thinking about it the compliance person said, “Yeah, I don’t know what you do – but you can’t do that.” Are you kidding me?
I’m not a compliance poo-pooer. I believe whole-heartedly in everyone being compliant. It keeps advisors out of trouble and consumers safe, but this answer was not only poorly crafted, but downright illogical. This is one of the things wrong with the insurance industry. Too much mass confusion instead of mass assistance. We must keep pushing compliance officers and regulators to change unreasonable responses such as this, which keeps advisors from doing what they do best – offering protection coverage through serving others.
My challenge to everyone in our profession is to question everything we are told. The social media guidelines are open for constant reinterpretation and are meant to be questioned equally by both sides to make certain compliance stays relevant, we keep advisors out of trouble and consumers safe. Compliance should look at themselves as partners to advisors as these licensed professionals depend on their expertise (< – whoops, not a compliant word by the way). We need advisors to amplify the messages of our industry so desperately in order to make an impact on consumers’ financial landscapes.
Please #SaveOurIndustry and act five years old again. Ask lots of questions!
Sheryl Brown / @BionicSocialite