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With the right technologies, community banks and other smaller players can compete more aggressively for the student loan market

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The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of its Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services...

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May 5, 2011
/   Spotlight

Below are interesting stories the staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let...

In many ways, Peach State FCU symbolizes the essence of the credit union industry: Created in 1961 with a specific goal of serving local educators in a few Georgia counties, it now has more than 41,000 members, while employees of all sponsor Boards of Education and select groups and associations are also eligible to join.

Like all good businesses, Peach State likes to stay current, and that’s why, earlier this fall, it launched social media initiatives through promoted posts on Twitter and Facebook. It was working—the institution says it had soon doubled the number of followers. In November, however, Twitter instituted new rules that “restrict the promotion of financial services and related content.”

For the record, this is not an absolute ban. Financial services providers can indeed use promoted posts, but there’s an approval process that must be followed, and some products, such as short-term mortgages, still can’t be publicized.

If Peach State represents one end of the financial services spectrum—a small, focused institution serving a very specific purpose—then JP Morgan Chase surely represents the other. So what can the two have in common?

On December 6, the Wall Street behemoth sent out an innocuous Tweet from its corporate account promoting an upcoming Twitter Q&A about leadership and careers and featuring the hashtag #AskJPM. It was totally innocuous and uncontroversial. . .except for the fact that just a few minutes earlier, Twitter had gone public with underwriting help from Chase. That first Tweet didn’t get much attention, but a second one a week later certainly did. The #AskJPM hashtag soon became a minefield of nasty messages, most flailing the company for its supposed lack of ethics.

Social Media Tablet

While Chase has had its share of PR nightmares in the recent past, from bribery scandals to the Bernie Madoff fiasco, it surely wasn’t expecting this one. The company hastily scrambled to fix the damage, dropping the Q&A as a bad idea and promising to “back to the drawing board.”

Of course, it’s way too late for that. ‘Social business’ isn’t just coming, it’s been here for a while. The lines between personal and corporate communications, previously blurred by a plethora of mobile apps, have been essentially obliterated by the ubiquity of social media. And the problem isn’t that the rules have changed, it’s that they keep changing on a regular basis.

Just this month, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) released its long-awaited guidelines for this process. Officially intended for financial marketers, “Social Media: Consumer Compliance Risk Management Guidance” actually deserves a broader audience in that it provides a clear overview of this rapidly evolving field, covering both the promise and the potential pitfalls. It doesn’t outline new laws per se, but plays an invaluable role in examining common practices and helping to negotiate current regulations.

Case in point: Twitter itself, which experienced a major snafu in this same timeframe. In mid-December, the company sparked howls of protest when it instituted a rule that enabled blocked Twitter users to anonymously view or Tweet the very users who blocked them. It was done with the best of intentions—Twitter wanted to protect those who sought to filter out abusive messages but feared retaliation—but the change had the opposite effect, and the company almost immediately had to reverse course.It’s important to remember that even a document like this, comprehensive as it is, offers little more than a snapshot in time. Regulations in the traditional sense, like Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, take years to create and implement. Rules around Twitter and LinkedIn, meanwhile, can turn on a dime, evolving as fast as the technologies that enable them.

The simple truth is that new technologies will keep emerging, and the rules will keep changing. In the long run, this is a good thing—each advance fosters better communication and greater competition. But in the meantime, it’s imperative that we monitor new tools as they emerge, stay abreast of changes in user behavior and expectations, and adapt our own practices to stay both current and compliant. It’s a tall order to be sure, but vital nonetheless.

*Image courtesy of  samuiblue –


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Andy Brown

Andy is marketing director for payments at NCR. He has nearly 30 years' experience in e-payment systems from the delivery and support of systems in the Far East and Europe, from both the product management and marketing perspectives. Based in the UK, Andy is responsible for marketing NCR payment solutions.

Dena Hamilton

Dena is NCR's Director of Enterprise Fraud & Security Software Solutions. She specializes in fraud, risk, compliance and security, with over 35 years of experience in the financial services space. Her focus is the development and deployment of enterprise financial crime solutions optimized in prevention, detection and back office efficiency.

James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Neill Harris

Neill Harris is product marketing director for ATM solutions at NCR. He travels extensively to many of the world's leading banks and financial institutions, articulating how self-service technology and innovation can inform and support strategies and solve challenges.

Zachary Ehrlich

25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, I am unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.

Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.

Brad Strothkamp

Cleopatra Mavredis

Cleopatra is NCR’s Global Marketing Manager for Channel Solutions and has more than 20 years of experience in the ATM industry. NCR’s channel solution portfolio is comprised of APTRA Vision, Inetco Insight and OptiSuite solutions.

Edward Wade

Edward is a freelance writer from Sheffield. Now living in London, he focuses on business and finance.