7 Tactics to “Friend” Your Compliance Team


Working in a highly regulated industry certainly has its hurdles, but few as (potentially) frustrating as compliance. In my role as social media manager, I have the not-so-enviable task of ensuring that all of our social content complies with our brand and legal guidelines. To say that this can often be a challenge would be quite the understatement.

Having said that, and while I certainly have had my share of frustration with our legal department, I think I have a much better appreciation for them than many of my coworkers. There are 2 reasons why:

  • I’ve established a mutually beneficial relationship with them
  • I’ve learned how/when the “no” I hear is actually helping defend me, my team, my job and my company against litigation or fines

Make compliance your strategic ally

The typical grumbling from most marketing departments is that compliance is the enemy. There is a pervasive feeling that creative minds are stifled and strong-armed by stringent rules and regulations, resulting in cookie-cutter content and collateral. The idea that legal doesn’t understand that marketing folks want to stand out in a crowd, and think out of the box, is something I hear a lot.

But compliance is not here to squelch our dreams and brilliant ideas into tiny bits and pieces on the floor. Compliance and regulation are working to make sure our businesses and products do not harm investors. And they are keeping your firm safe while they are at it!

Make friends

I am very lucky to have a great compliance team with whom I have developed a strong relationship. It’s one I nurture and value. I like to joke that their phone numbers are hooked up to my panic button, but in some ways, it’s true. We have open lines of communication and I try to keep them informed when I see potential issues coming our way.

7 tactics to “friend” your compliance team Click To Tweet

Here are 7 tactics I’ve used to strengthen my relationship with my compliance team:

  1. Involve compliance from the start. Are you just dipping your toes into social? Compliance should be right there next to you, holding a life preserver. Involve them in discussing your social platforms and marketing plans. Reach out to your BD (if applicable) and see what its guidelines are. Start out on the right foot, and you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache down the road.
  2. Set up a social media policy and train your staff. Sounds like a no-brainer, but without adequate training, your marketing and sales personnel are skydiving without a parachute.
  3. Research and implement archiving tools. Smarsh, Global Relay, ProofPoint and Social SafeGuard are just a few archiving tools specifically focused on the financial services industry that can help you and your compliance team keep records of your social media and other marketing activity.
  4. Get input early and often. Our compliance team is involved in our monthly blog meetings, sits in on video recordings, and attends brainstorming meetings. I try to keep surprises to a minimum. Involving them early on pays off – they have skin in the game and will want to see the initiatives succeed.
  5. Ask for a list of phrases that are problematic (and learn them). To keep the back-and-forth to a minimum, I know what phrases we can and can’t use in our social content, and I can  recommend “softening language” or changes to others. While I can’t (and don’t) catch everything (thank goodness for our copy editor, Diane), at least I can head some things off at the pass, prior to legal review.
  6. Stay up to date on regulatory guideline changes. Recently, FINRA published new social media guidelines for financial professionals. While not applicable to everyone, the guidance includes some helpful Q&As on subjects like text messages, third-party articles, likes and shares, and app considerations. It’s important information, but not something you’d want to curl up on the couch with a nice cup of tea to peruse. But knowing the latest guidelines can certainly help your review and archiving process.
  7. Buy them candy. No seriously. A little appreciation goes a long way, especially when it comes to last-minute reviews, or the occasional compliance slip-up. I recommend chocolate.

By including your compliance team in your overall strategy, you build a stronger, more secure social media machine. While we marketers and business owners are trying to generate new clients and sales, compliance is there to help protect your business. It’s really a win-win.

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Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson is the social media contributor for Practically Speaking and social media manager within the SEI Advisor Network.

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