What happens when an investor "friends" his broker or agent and they use Facebook chat or e-mail to discuss account activities? This sort of scenario sends shivers through the spine of those responsible for compliance in the financial services sector. We've seen a huge market develop around compliance enforcement for e-mail and IM, now those same concerns are extending into the social space.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, issued new guidelines this week designed to help financial firms balance the need to enter the social world with the need to meet electronic records retention rules. The problem for enforcement managers so far has been the lack of tools. While companies such as Facetime Communications have introduced social site enforcement gateways, it remains difficult to cover all the bases as social sites rapidly grow. Ultimately the heart of any successful compliance strategy is user training and a solid acceptable use policy for those accessing social sites. Financial firms would be wise to carefully read FINRA's recommendations and proactively take measure to limit their risk.