Institute of Financial Planning members are failing to apply its code of ethics to social media interactions, warns IFP ethics committee chair Andrew Brook-Dobson.
Speaking at the IFP’s annual conference in Newport this week, Brook-Dobson said too many members are “completely ignorant” of the code, which requires them to act with courtesy and consideration to everyone they come into contact with in the course of their professional work.
He said: “The increased use of social media brings issues with it. We have all seen, on social media and industry websites, examples of poor courtesy, poor behaviour and poor treatment of others.
“The contextual piece is bringing it back to the code of ethics and hopefully preventing people from having to come in front of a disciplinary hearing.
“All of you have signed the code of ethics, but our experience is that some members are completely ignorant of this code.”
Brook-Dobson said many members mistakenly believe the code only requires them to act with courtesy in their interactions with clients.
Clarke Willmott commercial litigation lawyer Michael Clarke, also speaking at the event, urged delegates to train their staff in the use of social media and to put social media guidelines in place.
He said: “Twitter can be extremely good for building your brand, but you need to be very careful with those communications.
“Communications need to promote a professional brand, and that requires awareness and training. Firms should also put social media guidelines in place which are linked to employment contracts and which set out clearly what is and is not acceptable.”