It comes as no surprise the adoption of social media has created many grey areas in the rules and interpretation of regulation and compliance. Social media profiles on LinkedIn or Twitter accounts can be seen as advertising for professional services, and in FINRA's view considered equivalent to a poster or flier that needs to be peer reviewed and documented by compliance officers.

A compliance officer must be notified of all changes to social profiles including "likes," endorsements, connections and comments. "That's one of the toughest things to deal with at large scale," says Bruce Milne, chief marketing officer at Socialware, a social business solution provider for regulated industries.

Due to the onerous archiving and compliance requirements the great majority of financial firms choose to stay out of the social sphere, but ING US (soon to be VOYA Financial) is taking on the challenge. In collaboration with Socialware, ING recently announced it will begin to roll out of LinkedIn profiles for its 2,400 financial advisors.

Strict Compliance

"We had a very strict policy in place," explains Ann Glover, chief marketing officer for ING US. "Our financial service advisors were not able to use LinkedIn until we could figure out a way for them to use it in a compliant manner."

Now, after a successful pilot with 10 users, ING is opening the program to a waiting list of over 100 advisors by year end. Word of mouth has spread quickly and Milne reports several inbound calls each day from advisors interested in joining the wait list.

From a business perspective, Glover says LinkedIn is an ideal place for advisors to manage relationships with current and prospective clients and to keep in touch as clients go through life events. "Only about 40 percent of the workforce is prepared for retirement," she says, "The direct demographic of LinkedIn is the target of ING, largely around preparing for a predictable and secure financial future."

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