Is compliance a priority for you? (Hint: It should be!)

boxingWhen I spend time with registered reps it’s not uncommon to hear the lackluster response they have when the topic of compliance is brought up. Heavy Sigh…. Come on – it’s not THAT bad….right? Unfortunately, it can be for some, but for a variety of reasons on both sides of the subject. Let’s discuss.

Advisors – what can you do to be more compliant? The answer, in a nutshell, is:  A LOT. Compliance is a very serious topic whether you are a registered rep or not.

Joanne Belbey of Actiance recently wrote an article in Forbes magazine that discussed certain areas that advisors need to better understand the compliance needs associated with:

  • Senior Markets:  Beware and Be Aware! We’ve all heard about this in our industry news, but we just need to beware in general when working with the senior market and be aware of ways you can be more compliant. Period.
  • Cybersecurity and High Standards:  I love the insight provided by Belbey when she quoted Susan Axelrod of FINRA which was,

“…you should hold your third party vendors to your own high standards, or you will open your firm to venerability.” Amen to this statement! We all need to be thinking this way!

  • Best Practices:  Your client’s data IS your most important priority each day. Be sure only the right people are accessing data on an as-needed basis. Your clients will not only appreciate you more, but trust you.
  • Lead by Example:  Setting a precedence of compliance in your office makes everyone feel it’s an important topic. In my world of social media, for example, be sure that all registered reps are doing what compliance has asked and all questions about certain requirements are discussed as a group. One person may be reading a guideline one way while another interprets it completely different.

Compliance – what can you do to help advisors?

  • Listen to the full question.  Advisors are lost in the language of compliance. Be patient with their questions and use layman terms and examples when they want a better understanding of why you want something a certain way. I don’t think advisors (as a majority) want to be non-compliant. They want to understand “why” and I’m finding that the proverbial answer of

“…because I said so” is not well-received.

  • Review guidelines more often.  Social networking platforms change…and they change a lot (it’s the bain of my existence!) Be open to the possibility that certain platforms allow an advisor greater exposure (in a good way – don’t go right into the negative risk aspect) to potential clients. Too many other industries are leaps and bounds ahead of those who are trying to make a difference and bring peace of mind through financial planning. Be sure you are giving them a chance to shine in their community.
  • Be expeditious in your reviews.  If you take too long to review profiles or articles, the advisor loses trust in the compliance process. Have an expeditious review process that takes into consideration that you’ve given the advisor the platform ability to use, they are likely paying for it through dashboards that monitor, so please be respectful in the review process. I believe this process has come a LONG way from where it once was, but I am still seeing some reviews take two to four weeks. Whether you want to hear this or not, that’s not acceptable.
  • Accept mediation.  There are social media consultants out there (yes, like me) who are wonderful advocates (like an ad litem) who want the best for both:  advisors and compliance. Allow these specialized individuals to help mediate the process to cut back on the frustration for both parties and assist in making sure the lines of communication are open and clearly understood.

Compliance is a necessary part of working well and being mindful of consumers and advisors best interests. I’m definitely not a compliance poo-pooer by any means. I believe there is still a breakdown between the two worlds though and if I can do anything to help, please let me know.

Be Bigger, Better, and more BIONIC!

Sheryl Brown – the @BIONICsocialite

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