Only one in four advisory firms operates a social media policy for staff despite its increasing use and growing scrutiny from the regulator, research suggests.
Three in five (58%) UK advisers are actively using social media but just a quarter (25%) have policies for how employees should use it, according to a poll of 117 advisers by software provider Intelliflo.
The results suggest the polled advisers' firms have no policy for using social networks, forums or blogs, or have not communicated it adequately, Intelliflo said.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is consulting on guidance on how to communicate clearly via social media, with a particular focus on what would constitute a ‘financial promotion'.
The Intelliflo results also suggested that, for those who engage in social media, attracting new clients is the most-cited motivation for doing so.
Intelliflo marketing director Jo Gilbey said: "Our survey provides a snapshot of how advisers are managing their marketing through social media platforms. With the FCA working to deliver firm guidance on how it expects advisers to operate in this space, it's increasingly important for the industry to ensure it has adequate controls and governance in place."
According to the Intelliflo results, Linkedin is the most popular social media channel used by advisers, followed by Twitter and Facebook.
Almost one in three, or 30%, believe using social media has a measurable or positive effect on their business, while 16% felt it made no difference, according to the research. Some 36% said they did not know.
Meanwhile, Intelliflo is pointing out two elements of the FCA guidance on social media to advisers.
The first is a ‘sign-off' of social media posts and tweets. The FCA guidance document states that sign off of all digital media communications must be carried out ‘by a person of appropriate competence and seniority within the organisation'.
The second is about keeping adequate records. To comply with the FCA guidance, relying on social media platforms' time-lines is not enough. This means firms should be using separate tools that will log and maintain all social media activity across all platforms.
Gilbey added: "Social media can be a cost-effective tool in the marketing mix but it in a heavily regulated industry it needs to be used with care and caution. Leaving it to a junior member of the team can be tempting but it's clearly something the FCA doesn't want to see."
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