Susannah Hammond, Chartered FCSI, senior regulatory intelligence expert at Theta Lake, a digital communications governance solution provider, warns about the risks of using emojis in communications with clients
Emojis are an inherent part of modern communications, but they must, in a business context, be treated with the same care as every other form of communication or messaging. Organisations should be aware that the same rules apply to communication by emojis as with all other communications.
Emoji usage brings the risks associated with communications with the public in terms of misleading content, investor protection, dissemination of potentially material non-public information, triggering a complaint, as well as the challenges of capturing (preserving and being able to retrieve) the full context of an emoji-laden conversation. Equally, there are potential issues with emojis being used for collusion, misconduct and other socially unacceptable behaviours.
Firms need to ensure that emojis are expressly covered in the suite of preventive, detective and technological controls in place as part of the governance framework and in the guidance given to employees on all forms of communication. Prevention is better than cure, and the best prevention method is often education. Regular training on the regulatory and compliance expectations around all forms of communication (emojis expressly included) is a good way to keep the message fresh and provide an audit trail. Emojis are now being cited in litigation – sending a ‘very angry face’ emoji may need to be considered as a complaint, and posting ‘money bags’ as part of an advised sale may be misleading for clients.