With Facebook and Twitter out of bounds, exclusive research by MD Consulting has found that LinkedIn is FX bankers’ preferred social media tool
In just a few short years, social media has had a major impact on our working and personal lives. According to OFCOM, 73% of the UK population have active social media accounts.
That’s more than 45 million accounts for a population of 65 million, with 32 million accessing social media on a regular basis through their smartphone.
It is unsurprising, then, that financial institutions are increasingly turning to the internet, and particularly social networks, to gauge sentiment within the financial markets. At the end of 2014, the Bank of England revealed that it had set up a task force to analyse internet search terms and the use of certain words and phrases when discussing aspects of the economy.
In an interview with Sky News, Andy Haldane, chief economist and executive director, monetary analysis and statistics, for the Bank of England, said that the organisation had created a ‘Big Data’ lab, which was using algorithms to extract and analyse data from online sources. According to Haldane, analysing the number of search terms for ‘jobseekers’ allowance’ could be used as a metric to give a real-time snapshot of the labour market while words such as ‘exuberant’ or ‘panicked’ can be strong indicators of sentiment within the financial markets.
Social media with the FX banking environment
But is the overall use of social media by the UK population and the online analysis conducted by the Bank of England reflective of trends within the FX banking world? A survey conducted by MD Consulting among individuals across 15 global FX banks suggests not.
According to our findings, when it comes to social media in their workplace, bankers in the FX market are far more likely to use LinkedIn than other social networks. Almost half of respondents viewed LinkedIn as their ‘go to’ social media tool, yet none use it daily, with 67% logging in on an ad hoc basis and just 17% using it in the workplace weekly. The fact that 70% of respondents revealed that social media was blocked in their workplace (predominantly access to Facebook and Twitter accounts) explains why usage of some networks is limited.
So if LinkedIn is the social tool most used by FX bankers, how are they using it? Our survey revealed that it is predominately to keep up with industry news and colleagues. Almost two-thirds (61%) said they used it for gathering content and news while the same number also used it for staying connected in the industry and with personal contacts. More than half (53%) said that they used it for researching people.
What is social media?
Perhaps one of the most insightful findings was the suggestion that respondents varied significantly on what they see as constituting social media. While 53% said that they had attended webinars (online seminars), none of the respondents classed this format as social media. This was also the case with blogs. Despite 61% classing LinkedIn as a business (as opposed to a personal) tool, a quarter (25%) said they checked the network at home on a daily basis while two-thirds stated that they used social media when they are on the move.
And while 69% of respondents thought it was important for their business to have a social media presence, surprisingly none said that they communicated with clients on social media. They are also fussy about who they talk to on social media – an overwhelming majority (92%) would not accept an unsolicited LinkedIn invitation to connect.
Just under a third (31%) thought it was important for their vendors, partners and clients to have a strong social media presence with 38% saying that it would influence their perception of those parties if they didn’t have one. Yet none of the respondents used any form of social media other than LinkedIn when researching partner relationships.
Although most respondents believed that their colleagues’ usage of social media was similar to their own, nearly a quarter (23%) said that they had colleagues who use social media differently in the workplace – which may suggest that trends are starting to change.