The need for financial advice licensees to increase digital and social media education was uncovered in the latest industry survey.
The survey of 153 advisers showed only 12.8% believed their licensee was providing adequate education when it came to digital and social media. Non-aligned advisers seem to hold this view most strongly as only 7.3% were satisfied with the amount of education they were receiving from their licensee.
The research, conducted by Midwinter Financial Services and Jenesis Consulting, also found a correlation between advisers with social media policies and those that understand RG234 or ASIC's guidelines for promoting financial and advice services. More than 70% of those aware of RG234 indicated they had a social media policy.
"Especially in the case of licensees, awareness of RG234 appeared to be a key driver of the probability of the licensee having a social media policy in place, meaning that those who are educated in ASIC's guidelines in relation to digital marketing are more likely to set guidelines for their advisers when it comes to social media," the report said.
Jenesis Consulting managing director Jenny Pearse said the key areas that all advisers should consider when establishing a social media policy are: reputational risk, security and trust, as well as a good understanding of the implications of RG234.
"In the past, I've had some concern about the lack of knowledge around the importance of a good social media policy; however the survey results indicate that the correlation between advisers having a social media policy in place and being aware of RG234 was prevalent. That's a great step forward in an ever growing area of engagement for advice professionals; we need to continue to improve that figure with the support of the licensees and associations," Pearse said.
The research also identifies a split in the Australian advice industry when it comes to whether reputational risk prevents participation on social media channels.
More than 87% of advisers believed there is a degree of reputational risk involved in engaging on social media. However, 53.5% stated the fear of reputational risk has not prevented them from engaging in social media, revealing divided opinion within the advice industry.
Midwinter senior brand manager Naomi Christopher said these results are understandable as advisers have always expressed fear of engaging in social media due to the potential of tarnishing their reputation.
"This anxiety can quite easily be rationalised when selected examples of adviser social media faux-pas have been dragged through the industry and mainstream media. However, we believe for the most part that this risk has been overstated at times. If advisers keep their posts and interactions professional, non-derogatory and avoid being highly controversial, they shouldn't live in constant fear of damaging their professional reputation," Christopher said.