We have upgraded our LinkedIn integration following the release of LinkedIn’s new compliance module. Please ensure that all users at your firm reconnect to LinkedIn through the Presults Console with their login and password by:
Logging into Presults
Clicking “Connectors” on the left side of the screen
Clicking “+Add New” next to social media
Clicking “Connect LinkedIn Compliance” and sign into LinkedIn using their user name and password
Content marketing uses short-form and long-form articles, newsletters, videos, charts, graphs and other information to engage an audience with the goal of landing them as a client. By providing useful and interesting content, you can build trust with your audience and demonstrate your potential value as a financial advisor.
Why is content important? Having strong content on your website helps you to rank better on search engines. So when potential clients search for “financial advisor in [state]” or “financial advisors that specialize in estate planning,” your firm’s website can show up at the top of search rankings. Content also helps you stay engaged with your existing and potential clients.
Getting Started with Content Marketing. The possibilities within content marketing are vast! An easy place to start is with topics that are of interest to you. Your interest and excitement will translate to your audience. You should also pick a medium that you are comfortable with and can consistently produce. If you aren’t a strong writer, but enjoy being in front of a camera, a weekly short video series will be easier (and more enjoyable) for you to make than a weekly newsletter. If you like charts and graphs, you could create your own, or dissect and discuss interesting data that you find online. The most important things are to share content that you actually care about and to do it consistently. You can also leverage AI tools like ChatGPT to generate content ideas, outlines and first drafts of your content to help save you time.
Archive. Keep in mind that as a financial advisor your marketing is subject to the SEC’s New Marketing Rule (the Division of Examinations even released a Risk Alert on this last Fall!) and recordkeeping regulations. Be sure that you are keeping records of all of your marketing communications with your clients, including emails (like newsletters), texts, articles posted to your website and social media posts.
Contributor – Anne Harris, Head of Marketing, Presults
FINRA Rule 2010 was in the news this month when an Edward Jones advisor received a 15-month suspension and $15,000 fine for violating FINRA Rules 2010, 8210, and 4511.
So what is FINRA Rule 2010 and how do you stay in compliance?
FINRA Rule 2010 rule requires that “A member, in the conduct of its business, shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.”
Rule 2010 is purposefully broad and requires members to conduct themselves in an ethical manner in all business practices. The rule applies not only to a member’s behavior towards clients, but also applies to their relationship with FINRA. In 2015, FINRA found that advisors under investigation “each breached his fiduciary duty to those investors in misusing that fund’s assets” and also included in the ruling that the advisors provided misleading information to FINRA and failed to update their U4 form, in violation of FINRA Rule 2010 (1).
In another ruling, FINRA found that “associated persons may be held liable under FINRA Rule 2010 for any unethical, business-related conduct, regardless of whether it relates to securities or an associated person’s customers” (2). This definition goes back to a 1996 ruling in the case Vail v S.E.C. where the SEC upheld a ruling that Henry Vail “misappropriated funds from the Houston Young Professional Republicans Club” finding that this was “ business-related” conduct even if it did not involve securities (3).
Summary: Rule 2010 regulates all professional behavior, not just relationships with clients. This rule also applies to any business-related conduct as well as actions and behaviors towards regulators.
Contributor – Anne Harris, Head of Marketing, Presults
The SEC adopted new amendments last week that will remove and replace references to credit ratings from the existing exceptions in Rules 101 and 102 of Regulation M.
In conjunction with this rule, the SEC added a new records retention requirement for broker dealers with regards to the exception in Rule 101. In accordance with Regulation 17a-4, “broker-dealers would be required to preserve for a period of not less than three years, the first two years in an easily accessible place, the written probability of default determination made pursuant to proposed paragraph (c)(2)(i) of Rule 101.”
Per SEC Chair Gensler, “This adoption fulfills Congress’s wishes in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, ensuring we don’t embed in our ruleset a reliance on credit ratings – and instead have appropriate alternative measures of creditworthiness.”
Read the full press release from the SEC here: https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2023-105
Find the final rule here: https://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2023/34-97657.pdf
Compliance may not be fun, but it can be easy. By investing the time now to set up a flexible and adaptive compliance system, you can save your team time and trouble in the future. Here are a few best practices to consider when establishing and maintaining your electronic recordkeeping compliance system.
It All Starts with the Manual
When it comes to keeping you and your firm compliant with SEC and FINRA regulations around recordkeeping, everything should start and end with your compliance manual. Documenting your compliance rules and practices has several advantages. When your rules are documented, you reduce confusion and you have a source of truth that employees can turn to when they have any questions or concerns. Having a compliance manual and conducting periodic training helps maintain accountability.
The first step is to ensure that employees are clear on which communication channels are approved and which are not approved. All known communication channels should fall into one bucket or the other – there shouldn’t be any communication channels that don’t appear on your list. If you ban WhatsApp, don’t assume that your employees will extrapolate that ban and apply it to Signal and Telegram. If you allow Twitter, make sure you have a clear policy on Mastadon as well.
Data Retention & Storage
In most cases your data will need to be stored for 5 years if you are a Registered Investment Advisor and the first two years in an easily accessible place (“easily accessible place” is vague, but electronic storage that can be easily searched, indexed, filtered, and reviewed is recommended). All written communications from both current AND prospective clients must be archived, so that includes any advertisements (email marketing, social media marketing, flyers, etc).
Test Your Systems
It’s not enough just to have compliance systems and processes in place, you need to ensure that the systems are capturing all expected client communications and that employees aren’t communicating outside of these channels. Schedule a time every month to log into your archiving system and make sure that it is capturing all of the information you are expecting – any changes to your website, all of your social media posts, any text messages and all of your emails. Test your reporting system to make sure it is capturing all of your reviews.
Review and Audit
Set a specific percentage of client communications that you randomly review (this percentage might vary by firm size, but aim for at least 10%), and be sure to review any flagged communications. Your compliance system should flag potentially non-compliant words in your communications, words like “guarantee” or “promise.” Schedule semi-annual practice audits so that you are ready for the real event.
Be honest about shortcomings!
SEC Chair Gary Gensler said, “If you mess up – and people do mess up sometimes – come in and talk to us, cooperate with our investigation, and remediate your misconduct.” The SEC has been true to their word, offering reduced fines (or even no fines) for companies that self-report and cooperate with the SEC on investigations.
Compliance Starts at the Top
Compliance is everyone’s responsibility. From interns to senior managers, everyone who is communicating with clients has a responsibility to archive their conversations. When leaders in your firm set a good example, it’s much easier for others to follow. By following compliance rules and admitting when there are shortcomings, you create a culture of honesty and accountability.
Compliance Starts Now
Start now! If you are overwhelmed and not sure how to get started, trust us, it’s much easier to start now and store messages now than it will be 6 months from trying to track down old messages.
Texting is the default communication method in 2023, but it is still a new frontier for financial advisors. The past few years have seen a transition from in-person meetings with financial advisors to video conferences through popular platforms like Zoom. The next big transition in communication between financial advisors and their clients will be a move from calls and emails to text messaging. According to Simple Texting, 70% of consumers opted in to receive texts from businesses in 2022, and 61% said that they want the ability to text the business back.
Text messaging is convenient and allows users to communicate in a brief, informal way that saves time. Rather than another email crowding your inbox or a phone call where both parties must be present at the same time, text messaging allows for on-demand communication at the user’s convenience. Everything from appointment confirmations to portfolio updates can be done via text, but how do you ensure the correspondence is safe and compliant?
Text messaging your clients comes with risks. In 2022, the SEC levied $1.1 billion in fines against financial firms because “firms’ employees routinely communicated about business matters using text messaging applications on their personal devices.” There are a number of steps you and your firm should take to comply with SEC and FINRA regulations. First, develop written policies and procedures around texting. Texting can take place on iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram and Google Voice, just to name a few, so be sure to address all of the channels your employees are using. Once your policies are established, all employees must be trained and periodically updated.
Your firm can implement compliant client texting in a few ways. One way is to utilize a voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology that easily integrates with compliant archiving software. Some compliance software, like Presults, offers a phone application that you can download from the app store and use to text just like you normally would. With this solution, you will need a new business phone number, but will be able to use your existing device to text with clients, so you won’t need a second device.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when texting:
Always keep a security wall between your personal communications and your business communications. Having a separate phone number from your personal number protects your privacy in the event of an audit.
Include standard disclosures at the start of any new text message conversation. If you are using texting to advertise to your clients, be sure to include the option for clients to opt out of these types of communications.
Periodically test your security parameters, you should be using two-step authentication and encryption with all of your client communications.
Meet your clients where they are. Clients, and especially younger clients, expect that they can contact their financial advisor via text message. Texting opens your firm up to audit risks, so minimize that risk by having a policy in place, using the right tools to text message compliantly, and taking the effort to make sure your messages are being sent with robust security protocols. To learn more visit, presults.com.
SMS archiving refers to the process of saving and storing text messages (SMS) for future reference or compliance purposes. With the increasing reliance on SMS for communication, it has become important for businesses and organizations to implement SMS archiving solutions to ensure that they have a record of all their SMS communication. In this article, we will look at the reasons for SMS archiving and the various options available for SMS archiving.
Why is SMS archiving important?
There are several reasons why SMS archiving is important for businesses and organizations:
Compliance: In certain industries, businesses are required to keep a record of all communication for compliance purposes. This includes SMS communication or otherwise known as texting. SMS archiving ensures that businesses have a record of all SMS communication, which can be produced as evidence in case of any legal or regulatory issues.
Record-keeping: SMS archiving helps businesses and organizations keep a record of their communication for future reference. This can be useful in cases where there is a need to refer back to a specific SMS conversation or message.
Productivity: SMS archiving can help improve productivity by making it easier to search and retrieve specific SMS messages. This can save time and effort that would otherwise be spent trying to locate a specific SMS message.
Security: SMS archiving can help businesses and organizations protect their SMS communication from being lost or deleted. This is particularly important in cases where SMS communication contains sensitive or confidential information.
Options for SMS archiving
There are several options available for SMS archiving, which include:
Manual archiving: In this method, businesses and organizations manually save and store their SMS communication. This can be done by printing out the SMS messages or saving them as digital files on a computer or server.
SMS archiving software: There are several SMS archiving software solutions available in the market that allow businesses and organizations to automatically save and store their SMS communication. These solutions typically have features such as search and retrieval, data export, and data protection. One of the best solutions, Presults, proactively monitors and archives this data in real-time saving compliance teams hundreds of hours on the review process.
In conclusion, SMS archiving is an important process for businesses and organizations to ensure that they have a record of all their SMS communication. There are several options available for SMS archiving, including manual archiving and SMS archiving software. To learn more visit, presults.com.
Here’s what you need to know to pick an archiving platform that’s the right fit for your firm:
1. Archiving Options
First and foremost, you need to ensure that any archiving platform you’re considering archives everything you need it to. While this may sound like an obvious requirement, even platforms made specifically for advisors may not include all necessary archiving. For example, some platforms may only archive emails. If the only way you communicate with clients is through email this isn’t a problem, but if you have a website or use social media, as most advisors do, only archiving emails will not meet your books and records requirements.
If you use social media and wish to archive both emails and social media, you have two options. You could have one archiving platform for emails and one, such as Archive Social, exclusively for social media. Your other option is finding a platform that archives both. If you prefer to have two separate archiving solutions, there’s nothing wrong with that from a compliance perspective, though two platforms may require more resources, in the form of both time and money, as opposed to one platform that does it all.
2.Proactive vs Reactive
Another factor to consider is how the platforms handle any potential compliance concerns. In this respect, platforms fall into one of two categories. The first type flags emails that contain certain keywords for compliance review. The second type uses a more proactive approach and actually stops potentially non-compliant emails from being sent. The latter option helps stop compliance concerns before they start, while the former requires the compliance team to reactively address the concern.
A proactive approach is obviously ideal, but few platforms currently offer this service. One of the few providers to do so is Presults.
Presults has a built-in compliance lexicon, which is constantly updated to ensure compliance with ever changing regulations. When a keyword is triggered in an email, the email is stopped from going out. This feature proves especially beneficial in protecting client’s personal information, since once an email with this information is sent out, a compliance review after the fact can only result in education to avoid a future issue.
What your current communication review process looks like and the compliance resources you have at your disposal will also play a role in choosing the right archiving platform. Part of an advisor’s oversight responsibilities include reviewing communication with clients. In other words, if you’re archiving client communication but not doing anything with it, you’re not fully in compliance.
The problem is that email and social media review is time-consuming. For smaller firms with only one or two employees, each employee may wear many hats and struggle to find the time to get to compliance tasks such as email review. On the other hand, larger firms with one or more employees dedicated to compliance, may find their compliance staff have their plates full with other compliance tasks, and therefore also struggle to make time for the time-consuming review process.
If you’re looking for a more efficient system that saves time spent on compliance, AI-powered tools may be able to help by catching compliance concerns in real time.
4.Price and Flexibility
As with any purchase, price will likely factor into your decision. Most archiving platforms have monthly fees, typically based on the number of end users. The charge for end users may be a set rate per person, or for a range of users. For example, the price to archive three to five accounts may be the same but jump in price once the sixth account is added.
Archiving platforms may also charge additional fees. These include fees for storage, import or export fees, and set up fees. It’s worth looking out especially for export fees. These are fees you must pay if you choose to leave that provider and export your data. Since these fees are often per user, they can quickly add up. If you plan to stay with that provider forever, export fees won’t be a problem, but if you ever wish to leave for any reason, you may find yourself having to choose between paying a high fee or dealing with a platform that doesn’t work for you.
Beyond fees and monthly price, you’ll also want to consider the level of flexibility of any contract. With some platforms you’re locked in for a certain period of time, while other platforms, such as Presults, offer month-to-month contracts.
In a perfect world, customer support wouldn’t be necessary, but anyone who has ever worked with a computer, let alone a tech platform, knows how unlikely this is to be the case. Therefore, you’ll also want to look into what kind of customer support is offered by the provider.
Specific questions to ask a provider include: • What does your onboarding support look like? • What training do you offer to new customers? • If I have questions, will I have the ability to speak directly to a person? • Are questions on your website answered by a robot or a person? • What methods of communication do you offer for customer support? Phone? Chat? Email?
Many of the larger and more well-known platforms are notorious for poor customer support. Frustratingly, these also tend to be the same platforms with contracts that lock you in for long periods of time and/or charge export fees that make it hard to leave.
Email archiving may not be the highest priority on your to-do list but going with the first provider you find may lead to headaches, frustration, and wasted resources down the line. Now that you know what to look for and what options exist, consider what’s best for your advisory firm. Spending a little extra time to ensure an archiving platform truly meets your needs can make your life considerably easier down the road.
Over the past few years, social media has played an important role in the wealth management industry’s marketing efforts, presenting opportunities for advisors to attract new clients and keep up with existing ones.
By being active and posting regularly on the various social media channels, advisors are able to directly communicate with their clients, and present themselves as competent stewards of their hard-earned money. But as with any area of advertising, social media comes with compliance concerns, including archiving.
In this article we’ll explore how advisors take advantage of the opportunities social media provides, while also fulfilling their compliance requirements.
Why Should I Be Active on Social Media?
Social media is no longer only for young people. According to Pew Research Center, 70% of US adults are active on social media. And while younger generations were earlier adopters, older generations are catching up. Forty-five percent of Americans 65 years and older are active on at least one social media platform and 73% of those 50-64. In short, advisors should be active on social media because their clients and prospective clients are active on social media.
One reason advisors may be hesitant to devote resources to social media is because they want a clearer ROI. Social media often lacks the immediate and direct response in sales of some other forms of advertising, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. A well-crafted social media strategy is an important part of any advisors marketing plan. Social media provides opportunities to build brand awareness, connect more directly with both clients and prospective clients, and build credibility.
But as with any form of marketing, not every strategy is a good strategy. The key to successful implementation of a strategy is intentionality.
Which platforms are a good fit? You don’t need (or want) to be on every possible platform.
What separates you from the competition? Share content that highlights your unique knowledge and experience.
What is the brand image you wish to portray? How will your social media highlight this?
What different kinds of content will you share? Include some variety to keep your posts more engaging.
The other reason advisors may be holding back from actively engaging in social media is due to concerns regarding compliance. While compliance is something that must be addressed, it’s no reason to miss out on all the benefits social media can provide. The first step to remaining compliant is knowing exactly what’s expected.
What Are the SEC and FINRA Requirements for Social Media?
Here we will cover some of the key requirements for social media, but compliance is complex, and advisors should always review any issues or concerns with their compliance personnel.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when creating content for social media is that it’s a form of advertising and as such, the same rules that apply to any other form of advertising also apply to social media. If you couldn’t put it on your website or in your marketing materials, you can’t put it on social media.
Though the rules are the same, the application of those rules isn’t always clear cut. Social media is still new, and regulators have struggled to apply the rules in such a way that aligns with this new form of marketing.
For example, in December of 2020, the SEC released its much anticipated new Investment Advisor Marketing Rule. The rule went into effect on May 4, 2021, though compliance action will not begin until November 4th, 2021.
Prior to the new marketing rule, advisors could not include testimonials. The rule addressed the changing nature of how people use and interact with companies online and updated these rules so that advisors can now include testimonials from clients, including both reviews and referrals. To avoid having these be misleading, compensation for the testimonial or any conflicts must be disclosed. This brings the SEC guidelines more in line with those of FINRA, which also allows firms to share testimonials, as long as the firm discloses if the individual providing the testimonial was compensated.
The other area that applies to social media, just like any other form of advertising, is recordkeeping. Both the SEC and FINRA have rules that require advisors to keep records of their advertising. In practice, this means advisors must find ways to archive their social media.
What Happens if I Don’t Archive My Social Media Posts?
Advisors who don’t archive their social media posts are in violation of their recordkeeping requirements. In other words, they’re not in compliance.
Both the good and the bad news, depending on how you choose to look at it, is that there’s not one specific consequence for advisors not in compliance. If the SEC were to conduct an exam and audit your firm, the consequences could vary. You could receive a deficiency, which does not come with any fines or penalties, or the auditor in charge of your exam could choose to make an example of you and fine you heavily. While the latter is less likely, it’s possible, and taking on the extra risk when there are such simple solutions makes little sense.
Regardless of the consequences, staying in compliance is always your best bet. Finance is a heavily regulated industry, and while this may add additional burdens on the vast majority of advisors who work in their clients’ best interests, the industry does have bad actors too. Sadly, regulations are necessary in order to keep the handful of bad actors from harming their clients.
What Social Media Channels Can I Archive?
Just as advisors must archive their website and emails, they must also archive their social media. But “social media” covers a wide range of platforms and content. What exactly should advisors archive?
The short answer is pretty much everything. Remember, everything you put on social media is an advertisement, and advertisements require that you keep records of them.
The good news is that you can archive content from any social media platform. The other thing advisors will want to keep in mind is that it’s not just posts on social media that require archiving, any comments are also part of their advertising and therefore require archiving.
Is Presults Right for You?
Now that we’ve covered what advisors need to do, now we’ll consider how they can go about doing it. Many advisors have heard of some of the larger names in archiving, but plenty of other options also exist, including Presults.
• Included for free with email archiving
As we’ve seen, while email archiving is important, so is social media archiving. Many other archiving platforms have a basic package that includes only email archiving with additional fees for archiving your website or any social media sites. That’s not the case with Presults. Presults includes both website and social media archiving in its basic package.
• Monitor Emails Before They’re Sent
Most archiving solutions allow you to flag for keywords in outgoing emails, but they do so only after the email has been sent. While this is better than nothing, it means you’re addressing issues instead of keeping them from happening. Presults is different.
Presults allows advisors to monitor emails with potentially non-complaint emails before they’re sent. The advisor simply needs to include a list of keywords to flag, and every outgoing email is auto swept and flagged. Not only does this help address issues before they arise, but it also eases the burden of email review.
Everyone wants a fair price, but for smaller advisors the costs of remaining compliant may prove especially challenging. Additionally, many larger archivers force advisors into long-term contracts, which may not be a good fit for the advisor.
Presults understands the value of flexibility and believes in retaining customers by providing a valuable product and excellent customer service, not long contracts that are difficult to get out of. Presults offers a month-to-month subscription that includes email, social media, and website archiving starting at under $100 per month.
• Built specifically for advisors
Many industries have recordkeeping requirements, but advisors have unique needs. That’s why Presults was specifically built with the specific requirements of advisors in mind. Furthermore, as the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, Presults will continue to offer services that help advisors meet their needs.
With the needs of advisors in mind, in addition to its comprehensive base package, Presults also offers add-on features that help meet the needs of advisors, including email encryption, client personal information protection (such as SSNs and DOBs), and tone detection, which can provide a warning when conversations are becoming too heated.
Social media provides new ways for advisors to engage with existing clients and build brand recognition with prospective clients. Compliance concerns shouldn’t keep you from taking advantage of this potential opportunity. Cost effective, user friendly options such as Presults can help you engage in social media while remaining compliant.
Presults™ offers a new standard in compliance that is easier to manage, reduces cost, and is highly-effective.