Why it is more important than ever for marketing and compliance to stick together

Apr 15th '16

Forget the EU – the big harmonious union we all need to be thinking about is marketing and compliance.


Historically, the two have mixed a bit like oil and water, but in today’s digital world, there is an even greater need for pulling together. In financial services, especially with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) monitoring companies and their electronic communications more closely than ever, the two are set to be even more closely linked. Perhaps with this in mind, businesses have started to implement the role of financial promotions managers (FPM); a trend the larger financial firms are already championing and one that we might see become commonplace across firms of all sizes. Crucially, the FPM role resides firmly in both compliance and marketing departments and has dual reporting responsibilities.


Let us not forget it is we marketers who are charged with ensuring all collateral is fully compliant, and the sheer breadth of communication channels we have to contend with is no mean feat. Often, the channels themselves dictate a range of style and tone too; from conversational style to the more traditional, formal corporate literature. Irrespective of channel or communication style, marketing professionals are responsible for the standalone compliance of each output.


Smarsh did some research last year – we’re about to kick this year’s off – focusing on variances in marketing trends between our core market in the US and firms based here in the UK – and the results were quite telling. Highlighting fundamental cultural and regulatory disparities, our analysis revealed US financial firms are streets ahead of the UK when it comes to robust data retention and oversight strategies. It also showed that, unless UK firms are able to adapt and keep pace with the regulations governing electronic communications, they risk being left behind.


Figures from the Smarsh report show that, across the main social media channels, there is an average ‘compliance gap’ of 58% amongst UK financial firms compared with an average of 34% for US based firms.  The compliance gap indicates those firms who have no archiving (or means of retaining and monitoring) records in place.  Perhaps unsurprising given the US regulator rules with more of an iron fist than the FCA. But, if we are to consider how we might improve delivery as a whole, having an element of foresight when it comes to regulatory compliance is surely one potential way to do this.


I’d venture that a lack of prescriptive regulation in the UK, coupled with a cultural bias towards individual privacy, has resulted in worryingly low levels of electronic communications oversight amongst UK businesses. And it is this cultural bias that we need to be aware of when considering how best to govern electronic communications across the full breadth of communication channels.


The real nettle which UK businesses must grasp is prioritising regulatory obligations over the needs of employees.  Many of those financial firms we spoke to as part of our research were most concerned about balancing employee privacy with oversight obligations (61%) while less than half (46%) were concerned by keeping pace with new and changing regulations. This suggests a lack of awareness and appetite for regulatory change and whilst the UK has not, as yet, seen as much regulatory attention given to electronic-communications compliance this is likely to change. So, it is worth UK firms starting to think now about how well – or otherwise – equipped they are to deal with their data oversight and record-keeping requirements.


There are a number of simple but effective steps for firms to follow that can help with their issues. Organisational alignment between marketing and compliance is key and developing internal workflows to ensure stakeholders across both teams are privy to communications being issued can help avoid bottle necks. Alternatively, businesses can consider implementing hybrid roles such as FPMs.


Firms that enable employee wide social media usage must ensure staff are fully aware of their personal responsibilities for compliant communications. Then remind, remind, remind- often conversations start general but can easily move to trickier areas of ‘business/services/pricing’.


It is also worth checking with the IT department to understand what systems are in place for well-established channels – email or business issued mobiles for example. Businesses need to know if those systems are capable of assisting with oversight and retention across newer channels such as social media and instant messaging.


And firms must be confident their current retention and oversight systems are helping them to meet FCA record retention periods across the full range of communication channels?


Finally, firms would be wise to consider a comprehensive archiving and supervision platform that can manage communications across a range of channels and cope with evolving channels, retain communications in their native format and not flatten the social media thread into an email making it non-compliant with regulations, and integrate with other internal tools such as Hootsuite.


Author: Anna CarlessMarketing Director EMEA, Smarsh. Source: Marketing Tech News


Remember: Not everything is black and white when it comes to Financial Promotions, and many of the rules are open to interpretation. If you are unsure how your activities fit within the rules,

please contact us.

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