As firms continue executing work from home policies, they should consider crucial factors related to potential challenges and changes needed to their communications surveillance program. As more employees are working on personal devices, spending more time on social media, and conducting business in this new reality, regulations on building a compliant communications program are even more important now.
FINRA Rule 2210 Communications with the Public and SEC 206(4)-1 provides guidance on types of communication and the requirements for review of advertisements, correspondence, and other types to ensure communications are fair and balanced. Now is the perfect time to reassess your current program by considering new challenges. Below are 4 key considerations to your communications surveillance processes.
Social Media Monitoring
The use of social media has skyrocketed. On a daily basis, more people are using social media as a source to stay informed with the current news, advertise products and services, keep in touch with friends and family, or just rid boredom. Social media and the use of it has been an essential element in communications with the public.
What is your firm’s current policy on using social media? If it is for personal use or static use only, firms may consider added surveillance to look for any unapproved use. On the other hand, if the firm does allow social media use, compliance professionals should understand what is acceptable and be on guard for social media that is unbalanced, exaggerated, or misleading. Investors and clients are looking to your Firm for guidance and leadership. Having a united and compliance-approved stance should be a top priority.
Email Review Frequency
For firms that frequently met face-to-face with clients, more email traffic may encourage increasing the frequency of reviews. Firms that perform quarterly or monthly reviews should consider monthly or even weekly reviews. Firms that typically perform weekly reviews should consider even daily reviews. Look at the trends and be proactive in your surveillance frequency.
Archive Keywords and Lexicon
When did your firm last review your keyword and random sample percentage? Even if a firm reviewed and made changes to their list in January, they should take a fresh look at their list. Communication trends and issues are ever-changing. As a result, firms should consider making updates based on cybersecurity, safeguarding client data, responsiveness challenges, operational issues, trading concerns related to the market, panicked clients, and staff unapproved behavior while working from home.
Many compliance personnel had direct and immediate contact with employees and upper-level managers. Employees may have begun using different tools to communicate (i.e. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc) while exclusively working from home. The firm must ensure that all innovative technology tools are approved, archived (SEA 17a-3 and SEA 17a-4), and tested. Additionally, employees should receive proper training for all approved technology.
Our expert team can supply valuable guidance on building an effective communications program during these stressful times. Please contact our office for more information.