As we speak: LIMRA Convenes in Boston

Growing Social: A marriage between compliance and marketing is advancing the financial services industry into the social media revolution


by P.E. Kelley

Managing Editor, LIFE&Health Advisor

posted Friday, August 24, 2012 7:45 am

As you read this, a group of more than 300 industry executives is gathered at the second floor conference center of Boston’s Intercontinental Hotel, to dialog, discuss, diseminate, dispel… and learn as much as they can about social media and its place in the financial services marketplace. People from every level of the industry, including management, compliance, marketing and distribution, as well as numerous vendors who have developed the leading technology now in use within the social media domain, have gathered since Wednesday to share knowledge.

This ambitious event, The Social Media Conference for Financial Services, sponsored by LIMRA International & LOMA, runs through today. The curriculum for the conference will examine the evolution of social media, looking at the development of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to name only a few, from the early development to the more sophisticated applications being created. With a heavy emphasis on compliance, especially for larger companies, panelists are discussing the impact that social media, now referred to simply as ‘Social,’ is having on business operations. For many companies, including The Guardian, whose Chief Marketing Officer, Steve Holstein, served as a panelist for a marketing / strategy break-out session, the challenge is to embrace and incorporate social media into the corporate culture, marrying the ambition of marketing with the due-diligence of compliance and in effect codifying social-media programs into the corporate environment.

"What we see happening within the industry is those from compliance and those from marketing becoming partners in the process..."

“What we see happening within the industry is those from compliance and those from marketing becoming partners in the process,” said Stephen Selby, LIMRA’s director of regulatory services. He went on to say that social media still remains underutilized within financial services, but through the efforts of LIMRA and about 15 major U.S. insurance companies, among them Mass Mutual, MetLife and Pacific Life, the education process and learning curve is quickening.

The goal, according to those companies already practicing formal social-media programs, is to further expand its usage and relevance to the day to day operations of the company, especially in the marketing department. The potential, when you consider the claim that one in every 13 people in the world has a Facebook account, becomes evident. For LIMRA, which now has more than 800 company members, the goal is to deliver this potential to more of its members.

The science of social media is the science of social behavior, according to the material being discussed in ‘The Myths of Social Media,’ one of today’s panels. As usage of social media becomes more integrated into industry, and the myths and misconceptions give way to an informed understanding of its potential, groups like LIMRA and the handful of companies that have served as pioneers envision an entrenched acceptance. “We have a real-time laboratory right now,” said Selby. The consensus appears to be that before too long, social media will be as commonplace as the telephone.