A detailed examination of our code of ethics is beyond the scope of this piece, but I would like to focus on one important area: courtesy.
The code states: “Members should conduct themselves with courtesy and consideration to all with whom they come into contact in the course of professional work.”
It sounds like a no-brainer. However, closer examination can be revealing.
One area I find particularly interesting is social media. Being a professional means living by the highest standards in everything you say and do. Naturally, that includes social media. I am not talking about the compliance issues in the area – that already gets plenty of coverage – but the occasional slip-up, a derogatory comment here or there, that can mean shooting yourself in the foot, with long-term consequences for your brand value.
As the market for professional advice becomes ever more competitive, your brand has to rise to the challenge and shine through all forms of communication channels you use.
Think about what you post and how you respond to people. Consider how your comments may be read or perceived. What may seem like a robust or forthright argument to you may be offensive to others.
It is easy to forget the world is watching. Existing and potential clients are watching closely and, for a profession built on trust, any slip-up is likely to prove costly.
Sue Whitbread is communications director at the IFP