What the FCA's Twitter policy means for you

Author: Nicola Brittain
IFAonline | 11 Apr 2013 | 08:00

Categories: Regulation

Topics: Twitter| Phil Calvert| FCA| Martin Wheatley| Facebook

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Twitter has become an indispensable tool for many advisers – so how do they feel about the regulator inviting itself to the party?

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chairman, Martin Wheatley, made clear the regulator’s intentions to make better use of Twitter in an interview with the Daily Mail in the days leading up to the transfer of power from the Financial Services Authority. He said the new regulator would be much more sensitive to information about financial products and the way they are sold.

“As part of our new plan to check on firms, we will look at how they make their money and scrutinise where their margins are. What’s new is that we won’t just be relying on regulatory reports back from firms, but on reports from consumer bodies, internet monitoring, the media and even on Twitter.

“In the past, the emphasis was on firms’ regulatory reporting - we will be much broader in our approach,” Wheatley explained.

Cause for concern?

But what will this mean for users of the platform? Should they be worried, or does this announcement mark the beginning of a more positive two-way relationship between the regulator and the financial services community?

Either way, the regulator is not starting from scratch with social media. Under a Twitter username of @TheFCA, it currently has 6,500 followers. Similarly it has worked with website Moneysavingexpert and Which? to develop its online presence and gain feedback from consumers.

It has deployed people on teams throughout the organisation to monitor and engage with Twitter users. Finally, it recently procured Radian6 software from cloud technology provider Salesforce – a technology designed to mine data from individual mentions on social media platforms as well as spot more general trends.

Phil Calvert, founder of social media site LifeTalk, said he was surprised the regulator had not made a commitment to Twitter sooner and that it had been only “been tinkering around the edges” to date.

But he explained that focusing on social media might not unearth the mis-selling that the regulator is interested in because advisers do not use Twitter to sell their products: “The biggest issue for the regulator will be the use of financial promotions, but anything like this would stand out a mile off. Twitter is a forum in which followers buy into a person’s ‘character’. A Twitter user might follow someone because they are amusing or informative and strike up a business relationship somewhere further down the line.

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