Social Media in the Financial Services Industry

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The Financial Services industry is looking at the social media phenomenon and trying to weight the risks and rewards of embracing this relatively new form of communication. In a heavily regulated industry there can be many pitfalls to be aware of and should be considered by any company before venturing into a communication strategy. With almost 100 people in-person and 30 tuning in via webcast, the social media event held at the offices of Heenan Blaikie in Toronto was a well-attended event. Portfolio Managers, Chief Compliance Officers, Marketing professionals and a variety of other industry specialists made up the attendees and it was clear that the financial services industry is wanting to find its way through the grey areas that exist in social media.

Ryan Glasser, CEO and Founder of Orefront Communications opened with the 2013 Social Media Revolution Video by guru Erik Qualman. After 3 minutes of sensory overload and constant flashing of big numbers relating to social media, Mr. Glasser went into a 20 minute presentation designed to share the power of social media and how it relates to the financial services sector. A quick overview of how social media is building on all other forms of mass media and the effects that search engines have on social media, lead the presentation to an explanation of the big 4 networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+) with some methodology on why some are better outlets than others. Compliance being one of the key topics and concerns, the Hootsuite Social Compliance tools powered by Global Relay were offered as a solution to companies who have multiple contributors to their social media campaigns. For people in the audience who are more interested in listening in on the conversations and making sense of what is being said online, the MyViralWeb social media monitoring tools were showcased.

From a legal perspective David Palumbo of Heenan Blaikie gave an in-depth presentation that highlighted the rules and risks associated with any outgoing communication from a registered financial firm. The financial services industry has unique issues regarding outgoing communication and must adhere to securities commission guidelines.

The expert panel was made up of a diverse group who each had their own ideas and recommendations on how to best use social media. David Kilburn, First Vice-President at CIBC Private Investment Counsel was moderating the session and asking thought provoking questions like “What do you see as the top-of-mind concerns when a firm is developing a social media strategy?” Tom Bradley, President at Steadyhand Investment Funds had great insights on how his firm is using social media to establish their brand and compete with some of the larger entities in the space. He commented that social media allows them to “level the playing field.” Tom also writes a column for the Globe and Mail and suggested to keep content interesting and engaging. John Salloum also from Heenan Blaikie gave insight to the new rules regarding email marketing and reminded the audience that the grey areas that exist with opt in email marketing can also apply to social media. The communication landscape is changing quickly and regulators are adjusting the rules of compliance to ensure that investors and the public are protected from misleading or harmful communication. Vipool Desai, President at Ara Compliance Support shared some of his experiences that related to policies that should be included in any organization.

Overall the panel did a great job addressing the risks and opportunities of embracing and ignoring social media. Orefront Communications would like to thank the Portfolio Managers Association of Canada for extending an invitation to Ryan Glasser and we look forward to future events.


To watch the full presentation click on the image below.


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