The MFAA has expanded its guidelines and enforcement into the realm of social media, with a new policy for its 11,000 members that will police professional and private interaction on all social media platforms.
Developed over several months in consultation with Gadens Lawyers, the MFAA said the policy had been developed at the behest of members of the association after the MFAA became more active in social media.
"Having embarked on more extensive involvement in this new medium it was the view of the National Brokers Committee and the Board that guidelines should be adopted by MFAA to assist members," CEO Phil Naylor told Australian Broker.
The two-page policy document outlines how members should behave online, with the aim of both protecting and enhancing the MFAA's brand as well as promoting the professionalism and integrity of the profession and industry.
Naylor said that most organisations have such policies including some associations, and that the guidelines had been signed off by the National Brokers Committee chaired by Brad Wood of Astute Financial, as well as the MFAA board.
“While social media is a very powerful selling and communication tool, the MFAA is keen to protect and warn our members that use of this media leaves a permanent record that can damage our members and the industry”, Naylor said.
Naylor told Australian Broker that no specific incidents involving member behaviour online had provoked the development of a policy, and that no other stakeholders such as major banks and lenders had pushed the move to develop a social media policy.
Any breaches of the guidelines are to be dealt with under the established "arms length" disciplinary process, in a similar way to other aspects of the MFAA's code of practice by the MFAA Tribunal.
The MFAA did not comment on whether the policy would be actively monitored and policed on an ongoing basis, or would instead be enforced on a reactionary basis after complaints from the public, other members or industry stakeholders.
The policy includes directions to member brokers to "behave as ambassadors of the mortgage and finance industry by acting professionally, honestly, respecting privacy, displaying restraint and ensuring they are adding value through their engagement with social media".
The policy also requires that "any material uploaded to a social media platform associated with or making reference to the MFAA must be consistent with and supportive of the MFAA objectives".
The MFAA also said that all users must "request permission" from the MFAA before posting photos, video or images from MFAA social or professional events on any form of social media.
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The MFAA's social media policy, full text:
Use of Social Media by Members
One of the key objectives of the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) is to facilitate stakeholder engagement, support and promote professional credit advisers (mortgage and finance brokers, mortgage managers and aggregators), and assist them to develop and promote a professional industry presence.
The internet and social media conducted on the internet are important tools in the conduct of members’ businesses. The use of social media requires responsibility and awareness. The MFAA requires all members to adhere to the following policy when they engage with social media.
1. When current or future MFAA members or anyone else (collectively Users) engage with social media in a way that is associated with the MFAA or choose to make direct or indirect references to MFAA related issues in a personal or business capacity they must:
(a) take responsibility for ensuring they are supporting the MFAA objectives above and in the MFAA Constitution and Code of Practice; and
(b) behave professionally, respect privacy, display restraint and ensure they are adding value through their engagement with social media; and
(c) identify themselves and make it clear their views are their own and they are not representing the MFAA.
2. When MFAA members engage with social media in a way that is not associated with the MFAA but is still linked to the mortgage and finance industry, they must:
(a) behave as ambassadors of the mortgage and finance industry by acting professionally, honestly, respecting privacy, displaying restraint and ensuring they are adding value through their engagement with social media; and
(b) uphold the reputation and integrity of the mortgage and finance industry.
3. Users must appreciate that their engagement with social media, places information into the public domain, reaches a broad community, can be damaging or offensive, and can impact the public perception of the industry at large. Users are required to consider the consequences of their actions in line with their obligations set out in this policy and the MFAA Constitution and Code of Practice, including conducting themselves with integrity, professionalism and acting responsibly. Use of this media can leave a permanent record of your contribution which can be viewed, printed, saved, stored, and shared by anyone. 9427510.2 AOC AOC MFAA September 2012
4. Any material uploaded to a social media platform associated with or making reference to the MFAA must be consistent with and supportive of the MFAA objectives. It must not be obscene, defamatory, threatening, offensive, harassing, discriminatory, unlawful, or hateful towards another person or entity, including the MFAA, its current or potential future members, its competitors and/or other business related individuals or organisations. MFAA executives have the discretion to remove offending material or advertising from MFAA controlled social media tools.
5. Users must request permission from the MFAA before posting photos, video or images from MFAA social or professional events on any form of social media. When making reference to, or commenting on these events, Users must identify who they are, ensure their contribution is professional, upholds MFAA objectives, is not offensive and adds value.
If you require clarification about your duties under this policy you should consult with the MFAA Executive Director of Marketing. All users are responsible for maintaining professionalism, integrity and respect through engagement with the MFAA online user community.