During the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) annual conference in May, a panel of regulatory officials commented that member firms should start reviewing use of emojis in connection with retention and supervision requirements for electronic communications to determine whether reportable 4530 customer complaints exist. The concern is that an emoji can change the context or underlying message of a communication.
FINRA’s head of examinations has said that the regulators are making it a priority this year to examine financial firms’ written procedures for supervising electronic communications, including the use of emojis to convey sub-textual messages.
Third-party vendors that provide technology for member firms to capture and supervise electronic communications have been working on a solution, but in the meantime, it appears the technology needed to interpret the meaning behind an emoji doesn’t exist. In other words, some human oversight is needed for review and interpretation as well as follow-up with the sender of the emoji for their intention, in certain circumstances.