Most investment advisers shudder when they think about Finra in relation to social media. They worry about complying with the broker-dealer regulator's guidance on Internet behavior and wonder whether their next Tweet or Facebook post may get them into trouble.
This week, however, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. reminded advisers that it's not just focused on monitoring what others are doing in cyberspace -- it's a participant in social media itself.
On Thursday, I knew that the Finra board was due to make a big decision about a rule on broker-dealer compensation. I checked its website obsessively for any clue about what had transpired. While I was waiting for something to be posted, I scrolled through my Twitter feed – and found the answer I was seeking.
Finra made the board's move known by tweeting a link to its press release. The statement itself didn't hit my inbox until several minutes later. Those of us on Twitter found out first.
I was surprised to get the news this way. But I shouldn't have been. It turns out that Finra was an early adopter. It's been on Twitter for several years – longer than I have, in fact.
In disseminating news from the board meeting, Finra also waded into other aspects of digital media. Within an hour of the board's announcement, it posted a video of Finra chief executive Rick Ketchum and lead governor Jack Brennan discussing the meeting.
It was the second time that Finra used a video to explain board actions. A link was included in the post-meeting e-mail to members.
Like the Securities and Exchange Commission, Finra limits its Twitter activity to putting out links to news releases, investor alerts and speeches. It's using social media as a push technology for widely distributing the message that it wants to send. It's not looking to engage in a conversation with Tweeps, as demonstrated by the fact that it “follows” only four organizations.
Still, it's encouraging that when a major decision like the broker-comp rule came down, Finra didn't tuck it away in a nether region of its website. It made sure that everyone could access background about the development easily. That's pretty good for an organization that is often accused of being opaque.