The Social Media Charter, an initiative promoting compliant use of social media in the financial services industry, is advised by Charles Parry. Much of this territory is still uncharted, with the Financial Conduct Authority planning to publish guidance at the end of March 2015. Hitherto the FCA has been consulting stakeholders and has already published a guidance consultation paper which indicates that a number of suggestions from the industry will be adopted in the final guidance. The SMC has contributed to this consultation.
In January the SMC hosted a panel discussion event in Davos during the annual World Economic Forum conference and Charles was asked to attend to provide legal input. The message was that whilst social media is a powerful resource and available to all with worldwide publication – Do You Hear the People Sing – with this privilege come responsibilities, duties, even dangers which need careful management, particularly in the fields of regulatory compliance and commercial reputation.
Whilst social media may be a valuable means of communication with clients and product marketing, the FCA require promotional business posts to be ‘fair, clear and not misleading’. Posts should also respect other FCA requirements, particularly market sensitive information and testimonials. With representatives from around the world, the discussion identified practical issues surrounding social media use in the context of financial services.