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6/8/2011
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LinkedIn Compliance Enforcement Gets Easier For Financial Services

Actiance Socialite eases conformity with federal regulations that require pre-approval of profile updates on social media.

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Financial services compliance officers can now enforce pre-approval of LinkedIn profile updates using Actiance Socialite.

Financial advisors who want to participate in social networks have been hobbled by regulations such as Financial Industry Regulatory Advisory (FINRA) Regulatory Notice 10-06, which classifies social profiles as "static content" that requires pre-approval prior to publication, just like advertising. Actiance is responding with a pre-approval workflow in which profile updates posted by a LinkedIn user will be intercepted and routed to a compliance officer for review before they actually appear on the site.

"Pre-approval of LinkedIn profiles, to this point, has been very manual," Actiance marketing VP Sarah Carter said. Previously, Socialite could only monitor a profile for updates and send alerts so the compliance department would be aware of any unauthorized changes. The monitoring and notification feature remains in place as a fallback plan, since the pre-approval process requires users to go through a Socialite proxy server to access LinkedIn--a configuration that can be more easily enforced for usage within the firewall than for access from a home PC or mobile device.

That means the compliance workflow can help with consistency but doesn't eliminate the need for financial professionals to be educated on the proper use of social media, Carter said. "We always recommend that it be written into the policy, with the technology as a backup for the policy," Carter said.

Although competitor Socialware has also partnered with LinkedIn to address compliance issues through monitoring of profiles and activity, Actiance has gone further by enforcing pre-approval, Carter said.

Actiance is focusing on LinkedIn because of the inherently professional nature of its profiles and because "it's specifically called out in the FINRA guidance," Carter said. "We see LinkedIn as the network of choice for reaching out to both prospects and clients. The success rates the registered reps have through LinkedIn are very much greater than they have through Facebook and Twitter." A similar compliance review feature for Facebook might be next, but is not as urgently needed as it is for LinkedIn, she said.

Employees have more ways to communicate than ever, but until the mishmash of tools gets integrated, productivity will suffer. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek: A buyer's guide to enterprise social networking. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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