Summary of the FCA Final Guidance on social media (fg15/4) #smfca

ComplianceThe latest guidance from the FCA on social media (fg15/4) came out in March 2015. There were only 2 changes to the initial consultation paper, namely:

The use of #ad was not recommended as a way to signpost a financial promotion because the # is used across many industries and is thought to be more confusing for the consumer than helpful.

Clarification has been given on recipients sharing or forwarding communications

More clarification has been given on recipients sharing or forwarding communications and on the rules when a firm reshares someone elses update. In simple terms keep the communication created or reshared stand alone compliant. How someone else chooses to reshare your content is not your responsibility.

If an employee posts from their personal account, depending on the message this could still fall under the financial promotion rules.

“A financial promotion must also be made ‘in the course of business’ to be within our regime. We have published guidance on this in our Perimeter Guidance manual (PERG). The ‘in the course of business’ test requires a commercial interest on the part of the communicator. It is intended to exclude genuine non-business communications. Social media conversations involving groups and individuals not acting in the course of business are therefore outside our regulation.” – fg15/4

  • The financial promotion rules are media neutral, but the very fact that social media includes character limited platforms means consideration in using this media needs to be made to remain compliant.
  • Make sure all communications are fair, clear and not misleading.
  • The FCA make reference to using images and infographics to solve the character limitation that sites like twitter impose. When doing so though it’s important to make sure both the text in the status update and the image are independently stand alone compliant. There are so many different devices and tools your message could be viewed on that you can’t guarantee your message will be seen with both the text and the image without the need to click to open the image.
  • The FCA do not see someone following your social account constituting “ ‘an established existing client relationship’ for the purposes of COBS 4.8.2R (1) or an ‘express request for the purposes of MCOB 3.7.1R (2) (b). So firms choosing to use unsolicited messages on social media must remember their are specific legal requirements that they must comply with when doing so.
  • The FCA’s concern with social media lies when it falls under it’s regime which is when communications fall under the financial promotion rules. While some criticism has been made towards the FCA for it’s brevity in it’s guidance, this actually gives UK firms much more scope in their social media strategy without concern for the regulator than their US counterparts.
  • Effective firms are looking to match the needs of social buyers. Therefore social media strategies should be looking to solve the problems of these social buyers, strategy wise this will mean financial promotions form a very small part of any strategy. Social selling is not selling on social media.
  • It’s most critical rule concerns record keeping and approval sign off requirements. This is where you social media policy and governance comes into play. Using the right software to assist both in the approval sign off and record keeping will be key for most firms.

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Gregarious, happy, problem solving, natural connector who once was told she could “Network in a Graveyard” and is still unsure about the comment. Previously an IFA herself and immersed in social media Bridget shares with advisers, planners, brokers and providers how to get the most out of social media and attract new clients.


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