Content marketing for financial institutions can be challenging with the many requirements that are needed to ensure compliance. In this podcast, we’ll be discussing compliance, content marketing, social media, and more for financial institutions with Northeast Managing Director Pam Buckley, of Fortune 500 company FIS Global.
John McDougall: Hi, I’m John McDougall, and welcome to Authority Marketing Roadmap. Today my guest is Pam Buckley, Northeast Managing Director for Enterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance or EGRC Solutions, with FIS — the world’s largest global provider dedicated to banking and payments technologies.
Today we’re talking about financial marketing compliance, challenges, and opportunities. Welcome, Pam.
Pam Buckley: Thank you, John.
Regulatory Compliance Concerns Regarding Content Development
John: What are the challenges you hear that banks and credit unions are facing, in terms of regulatory compliance when developing content?
Pam: There’s no doubt that increased regulatory burden and greater examiner scrutiny has financial institutions concerned. The corresponding cost of compliance continues to rise. I would say that financial institutions are struggling to keep up with new and amended laws and regulations, such as the integrated mortgage disclosures, which go into effect August 1st.
Never a dull moment when it comes to regulatory compliance. When developing content, we often hear that regulatory compliance is a challenge and that there’s a disconnect between marketing professionals and compliance officers or compliance departments.
It’s critical that financial institutions establish a compliance committee comprised of one representative from each functional area of the bank or credit union, including marketing. The two departments really must work together closely to ensure that all advertisements, disclosures, and marketing collateral comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations, regardless of the marketing medium.
Establishing an adhering to a comprehensive advertising or marketing compliance review process that encompasses all mediums ‑‑ digital, print, radio, TV, et cetera ‑‑ is critical, and that will keep your institution from running afoul of the regulations and incurring costly fines and reputation risk.
We’ve got to remember that compliance officers and departments have a job to do, and they’re expected to keep the financial institution out of trouble with the regulators, so they therefore need everyone’s support and cooperation toward that end.
I’d also note that we’re seeing UDAP cases enforcement actions on the rise, with dozens of enforcement actions seen to date around all kinds of unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices in marketing, and much more. That secondary review process is more crucial now than ever.
Can Financial Institutions Keep Up With Content Marketing?
John: Do you feel that financial institutions will be able to keep up with the current wave of content marketing, or is the regulatory burden too great in some ways?
Pam: While regulatory burden is at an all‑time high, the good news is that when you’re simply promoting your brand or highlighting your employees or your community involvement, for example, then there are far fewer regulatory compliance requirements.
This is particularly good news as financial institutions are turning more and more to digital or social media to promote their brand, engage with their customers, and establish a following. You’ve just got to remember that when you do promote a specific deposit, credit, insurance, or wealth management products, for example, then you need to comply with all applicable state laws and regulations, regardless of that marketing medium.
This just reinforces the need for that robust advertising compliance review process that includes digital content.
When Will an Institution Need Additional Disclosures For Content?
John: In general, blogging, YouTube, or social media — if you are giving financial tips, and helpful information, what you’re saying is that is a little bit less worrisome than when you’re specifically promoting products?
Pam: Yes. For example, when you are promoting a credit product and you include certain triggering terms, then that necessitates the need for additional disclosures. When you’re simply promoting your brand or you’re providing those helpful tips — that kind of information — then far fewer compliance disclosures are necessary.
Again, if it’s promoting brand, heightening awareness, and highlighting that community involvement — or charitable giving, for example — then you’ve got fewer compliance disclosures or requirements that come into play.
Navigating the Legal Aspect of Contests & Raffles
Pam: I’d add though, that very often we see contests or raffles. These are very tricky. They can be complex. When you are considering those types of marketing campaigns, it’s definitely critical that you first seek input from compliance and legal before you launch those types of campaigns.
They’re more involved. They have many more compliance requirements and also heightened risk for noncompliance with unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices — which everyone wants to steer clear of these days.
John: With that said, it’s doable, you just have to come up with a system to get the checks in place.
Pam: Exactly. Compliance is manageable, it’s just a matter of making sure you’ve got that process in place to perform the secondary review, whether it’s print, digital, or website — you name it. It still requires that ongoing monitoring and audit, so that you can detect, correct, and remediate any of those compliance issues that may come up.
You certainly want to get it right first, before you launch, post, or send something to print.
A Unique Approach to Social Media Marketing for Financial Institutions
John: At the financial brand forum, where we met last week in Vegas — which was an amazing financial marketing conference — the marketing person from Navy Federal Credit Union spoke. He was great. Did you hear him speak?
You were probably manning your booth there?
Pam: No, I did hear Michael Toner speak. I thought he was fantastic. He provided lots of great information about Navy Federal Credit Union’s approach to social media — their strategy, their success. I loved that executive dashboard that he shared, highlighting the nine metrics that are great to follow — number of posts, number of followers, numbers of Tweets, all that good information.
Certainly you want to be tracking the results and the ROI associated with social media. I thought he did an excellent job.
John: He also talked a little bit about contests, since you were just mentioning that, that kind of jogged my memory about what he was talking about. He’s had some good success with that. As a financial institution — and you’re saying that there’s some more risk there — but the people that are doing it, even with that risk and figuring out the compliance — are having huge success and giving case studies at the major conferences.
I find that interesting that some people are just shying away, I think because of compliance, and others that are doing it are winning big, because a fair amount of people are shying away.
Pam: That’s so true, and you’re absolutely right. You’ve got to kind of get in the game. When it comes to contests and raffles, privacy comes into play, making sure that you’ve gotten folks, for example winners, to waive their right to privacy if you’re going to communicate their name or publicize the name of the winner, and many other laws and regulations.
Even state usury laws come into play. That’s all. It is manageable, it’s just they’re a little bit more complex. It’s just a matter of making sure that those campaigns really go through a pretty thorough compliance and legal review process before they’re launched. When it’s done right, it certainly can be extremely successful. We’re seeing it every day.
Moving Into Content Marketing Quickly and Easily
John: How can financial institutions come up with a process to get content moving quickly for blogging, SEO, social media, et cetera?
Pam: Great question. I believe it all starts with a social media strategy. We’ve seen plenty of examples where banks just decided, “OK, I’m going to launch a Facebook page and just put something up there,” but really didn’t follow through with it, and really hadn’t even thought through, “What are my goals and objectives? Who am I trying to reach? Who’s my target audience? What am I trying to achieve through social media?”
First and foremost, it’s bringing all of the key stakeholders to the table to have a discussion around [a] social media strategy. You’ve got to have legal, compliance, risk, marketing, IT, and the various business units within your financial institution — get everybody to the table to have that discussion, think about what those goals and objectives are, and then what would be the best social media platforms for you to begin with, based on the target audience that you’re trying to reach.
That’s going to help you determine — is it Facebook? Maybe it’s Twitter, Instagram, or Yelp. You’ve got to kind of think through that strategy and develop a social media policy, procedures. You’ve got to make clear who within the institution has the authority to post on the bank or the credit union’s behalf. That’s very important.
Social Media Risk Assessment – What Is It and Why Is It Critical?
Pam: Then performing that social media risk assessment. For example, the FFIEC guidance that was published in December 2013 — that final guidance made clear that financial institutions are expected to perform a social media risk assessment. Very important that that be done and that you’re monitoring social media activity on an ongoing basis.
That’s really critical, especially where it’s real‑time. You’ve got to immediately respond and demonstrate empathy, and certainly there could be negative information posted — but it’s really an opportunity to turn that around, as long as you are responding appropriately and timely, and ideally kind of taking it offline.
Inevitably, financial institutions have been successful in turning those types of criticisms around and highlighting some really great customer service.
What You Need to Know About FFIEC Guidance
John: Those are great tips. If you could walk our listeners through a little bit about what you said in terms of FFIEC guidance. Can you talk about that institution a little bit, and the progression, in 2012 [and] 2013, what’s been happening there.
Pam: The FFIEC is the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, and it is basically all of the regulatory agencies — the federal regulatory agencies. You’ve got the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the National Credit Union Association.
They all got together and published final guidance around social media in December 2013. The good news is, there were no new requirements contained within that guidance. That’s really great news in these years of massive increased regulations.
We had Dodd‑Frank Act — we’ve got these new integrated mortgage disclosures going into effect in just a few months. Again, great news, there were no new requirements in that guidance, however, it did emphasize the focus on an institution’s compliance management system, or CMS. That all generally begins with a risk assessment, policies and procedures, internal controls, monitoring, audit, and training.
The regulators are expecting financial institutions who are active on social media to have performed that social media risk assessment — to have established policies that speak to the activity that they’re involved in and to have established pretty comprehensive monitoring and audit programs to be sure that you are continually reviewing digital content for compliance purposes, just like you would your website, your print ads, or your radio ads, for example.
At this point, here we are year and a half later since that guidance was issued and still seeing that there are institutions who haven’t performed that risk assessment, or maybe haven’t updated audit program and policies to reflect current activity.
Very important that you take a look at that guidance, make sure that you are complying with it, and that you’ve developed a solid social media strategy before you head in feet first.
Keeping Digital Marketing Compliance Costs Down
John: How can financial institutions keep the costs down, in terms of digital marketing compliance, with all these different things they have to work on?
Pam: To contain the costs associated with the digital marketing compliance, first and foremost, leverage all your available resources. That includes your compliance officer, compliance department, and focus on that brand awareness to start.
When you’re highlighting your employees, your community involvement, your brand, your charitable giving, for example, that’s the great stuff to start with and that’s what’s people want to hear about. Fewer compliance disclosures or requirements [are] associated with those types of posts and that type of content.
That’s the best place to start. Certainly be thoughtful about the platforms that you launch first, but just making sure that you’re providing for that secondary review before you’re launching and having the discussion. It’s the type of thing where there’s going to be — maybe you established a task force, or a round table, and you’re reviewing this periodically just to make sure that things are going as expected — and jumping on any issues that arise, whether it’s consumer complaints, or negative posts, that type of thing.
It’s all about the monitoring with the digital content, [it’s] critical to be staying on top of that. If you don’t have the resources internally, then there may be a need to partner with a reputable firm to make sure that you are providing for that ongoing monitoring, and you can demonstrate that to the regulators.
How Can Financial Institutions Benefit From Working With Marketing Agencies That Are Trained in Compliance?
John: What about agencies like ours, where my sister agency, “McDougall and Duval Advertising,” has been trained by you. How will that benefit McDougall Interactive — which is something we’re interested in doing — and how do financial institutions benefit from an agency that is already compliance trained?
Pam: We were thrilled to partner with McDougall and Duval last year and to educate their staff on regulatory compliance requirements — and believe they’re the first ad agency in the country to be trained by FIS on regulatory compliance. That’s really a great sales point for them, as they’re partnering with financial institutions, that they are trained on compliance, so they get it.
They understand what the requirements are, as well as the limitations. Just to sort of have that level playing field, that’s huge. Financial institutions — which is a very highly regulated industry — if I were running a bank and I had a choice between an ad agency that had been trained on compliance and one that hadn’t, I’d be inclined to speak further with the one that had.
They’re likeminded. They understand what the ramifications are for noncompliance. Let’s face it, with the rise in enforcement actions that we’re seeing for noncompliance, we all want to stay out of trouble, we want to stay out of the news, avoid that reputation risk, as well as that costly legal compliance financial risk to the institution.
What Is the Compliance Process?
John: Let’s say we get certified or trained by you for compliance, and then we go through the blog posts that we’ve written for some of our clients and send them back to the client. They’re not ready to go, as is, without their compliance team also looking at them?
Pam: Generally speaking, usually it’s going to go through compliance first, and then maybe a final review by us, or whomever. You certainly want the compliance department at your own institution to be on board and to have provided input. Generally, that’s how it works.
In some cases they’d run their ads through their compliance department first and then send to us. In other cases, we review the content and then just kind of copy whoever their compliance manager or liaison may be on the response. There’s also plenty of automated solutions for ad and disclosure review, for example, for compliance purposes.
John: I’m just trying to walk through a little bit of the possible scenarios where we can help financial institutions more with your potential services.
Basically what you just said is if McDougall Interactive is trained by you, there’s still a process, even if we write blog posts or social media updates for our financial services customers — that doesn’t mean because we’ve been trained that it’s ready to go, 100 percent, without further review from the banks compliance department?
Pam: Once we go through the training, then you certainly have a good sense of the types of content that is OK to go out without additional disclosures. You’d have that — that would sort of be top of mind, the type of content that’s going to require additional disclosures.
For example, if you’re promoting credit products, then automatically you’ve got to include the Equal Housing Lender logo and legend. Typically if you’re including certain terms or conditions, then that may trigger the need for additional disclosures, such as the term of repayment, cost of repayment, things like that.
This is what we do for many of our clients — we review their advertisements for compliance purposes. We’ve got a hotline — a team of compliance experts that does just that on a day to day basis. We’ve got a terrific client portal that our clients can actually submit and lots of great resources.
They can review their ads. They can go through the advertisement, the blog, the content, for all of these requirements to make sure that it’s compliant before they go live with it. There’s different ways that we can structure it, but those are just a couple of examples.
Learn More about FIS Global and Authority Marketing Today
John: You do a lot of outsourcing, essentially. You handle the compliance for many companies. How big is your firm?
Pam: FIS Global is a Fortune 500 company. We’ve got 40,000 employees worldwide. EGRC Solutions is the division of FIS that focuses on risk information security and compliance. Our ad and disclosure review service, for example, is one of many services and solutions that we offer.
This is the one where we’d partner with financial institutions to provide that compliance review for them. They can co‑source that with us.
John: I’d like to hear more about that. What’s your website, and are there certain pages on the site that would be helpful for our listeners?
Pam: FISGlobal.com/EGRC will direct you to our Enterprise Governance Risk and Compliance Solutions Web page. Certainly folks can email email@example.com, or dial our 800 number.
John: The number I have is 800‑822‑6758.
John: That was firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, this has been John McDougall with workingdemosite.com/authority and Pam Buckley. Come back to workingdemosite.com/authority for more interviews, and information on authority marketing.
See you next time on the Authority Marketing Roadmap. Thanks, Pam.
Pam: Thank you, John.
John: Great talking to you.
Pam: Appreciate it.
John: See you.
Pam: Thank you. Bye.