The financial services industry has been somewhat reluctant to embrace social media, but one local investment firm is hoping to change that.

Wedbush Securities, a subsidiary of downtown L.A. financial services firm Wedbush Inc., last week launched a companywide initiative encouraging employees to use sites such as Twitter and Facebook to engage clients and expand the firm’s business.

Natalie Taylor, the firm’s vice president of marketing, said the initiative was prompted by the realization that social media is more than a fad and the firm has to keep up to date.

“It is a new form of communication and engagement that is here to stay, similar to e-mail,” she said in a statement to the Business Journal. “If you aren’t on board, you will get left behind.”

Under the initiative, the firm’s advisers, traders and investment bankers will be encouraged to share market data through social media and engage clients on financial topics.

While some financial firms, such as Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, have adopted social media policies, many companies in the industry have discouraged employees from using social media due to the uncertainty surrounding regulations over disclosure and communication with clients.

The Securities and Exchange Commission does not have rules regarding social media. But the agency recently released a so-called national examination alert encouraging firms to establish specific social media policies that conform to existing securities laws.

Taylor said Wedbush employees will receive training on how to use social media.

Widespread Orders

More than one-quarter of all California banks are under “severe enforcement actions,” according to a new report from industry research firm SNL Financial LC, and nearly half of those banks are headquartered in the L.A. area.

A total of 67 banks in the state were under the enforcement actions – including cease-and-desist orders, consent orders or prompt corrective action directives – as of Dec. 27, the Charlottesville, Va., firm found.

Of the institutions, four of the five largest are headquartered in Los Angeles County, led by OneWest Bank, the largest under an order.

OneWest, the Pasadena federal savings bank started in 2010 from the assets of failed IndyMac Bank, was hit with a consent order in April for “certain deficiencies and unsafe or unsound practices” in its residential mortgage servicing and foreclosure services. The institution was one of a number of mortgage servicers, including the nation’s largest banks, to receive such an order.

L.A. banks were hit particularly hard by the downturn, which collapsed real estate values and caused higher unemployment than in other areas, and have faced financial challenges as a result.

Also ranking among the state’s largest banks under enforcement actions were Koreatown’s Hanmi Bank, which has been under a consent order for more than two years; Far East National Bank in Los Angeles, which received a cease-and-desist order in 2010; and Preferred Bank, an L.A. institution also under a cease-and-desist order

Most of the orders call for the institutions to raise additional capital and address loan portfolio problems.

Cetera Deal

Broker-dealer Cetera Financial Group announced plans last week to acquire Genworth Financial Investment Services Inc.

After the acquisition, which is expected to close within 90 days, Genworth will become an independent subsidiary of El Segundo-based Cetera focused on helping accounting professionals integrate wealth management into their businesses.

Cetera owns three other separate broker-dealer subsidiaries: Financial Network Investment Corp., Multi-Financial Securities Corp. and PrimeVest Financial Services.

Terms of the Genworth deal were not disclosed.

Acquisition Complete

PacWest Bancorp, the Century City holding company for Pacific Western Bank, has completed its acquisition of an equipment leasing company in Midvale, Utah.

PacWest, which recently moved its headquarters from San Diego, paid $35 million for all the stock of Marquette Equipment Finance, a subsidiary of Meridian Bank.

The bank said it would retain Marquette’s management and employees, and change the name within a year.

Back on Track

It took longer than expected, but the filing of Broadway Financial Corp.’s third quarter report has secured its standing on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

The L.A. parent of Broadway Federal Bank disclosed in late November that it had received a letter from Nasdaq warning of a possible delisting for failing to file necessary reports with the SEC.

The company said it could not file its quarterly report until it resolved certain tax issues.

Broadway received a letter dated Dec. 27 confirming that it was back in compliance with listing standards.

Staff reporter Richard Clough can be reached at rclough@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 251.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.