Managing Compliance Obligations For Electronic Communications

Financial Services is one of the most heavily regulated industries. As electronic communications devices and platforms proliferate, message retention and oversight is a top priority for many compliance officers. A recent survey of compliance professionals in the financial services industry identified the following key issues:

    Firms are working smarter, not harder to manage the growing compliance burden.

As the types of messages that Financial services firms are required to monitor and store continue to increase, firms are re-evaluating and updating supervision and retention procedures. Key areas of compliance concerns are

    New regulations
    New communications channels (e.g. social media, text messaging)
    New communications devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets)
    Increased scrutiny/enforcement by regulators
    Inefficiencies of the supervision process
    Mobile devices and communications are emerging as a top concern.

Like many other industries, Financial Services firms are facing the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) challenge: growing use of smartphones and tablets as well as adoption of mobile-specific communications like text messaging. This presents a challenge to conventional compliance practices which has not gone unnoticed by regulators. Last year, FINRA issued Regulatory Notice 11-39, stating that firms are required to retain, retrieve and supervise business communications regardless of whether they are conducted from a work-issued device or a personal device. This presents a challenge to companies that must separate business and personal communications in order to ensure regulatory compliance.

    Social Media and other online communication channels present new concerns.

Use of Social Media is on the rise in the Financial Services industry. However, policies and procedures for supervision and retention lag behind the pace of adoption. In terms of the most requested message types during examination! Email was first, followed by Website pages (including
RSS feeds, blogs, wikis) with Bloomberg or Reuters messages and instant messages ( tied for third place.

Conclusion

While regulatory examiners are increasing their oversight and moving from a check-the-box approach to compliance to scrutiny of the messages themselves, financial services firms are getting more savvy about their approach to compliance. In addition, as the opportunities for new types and channels of electronic communications increase, so too are the archiving and supervision technologies allowing firms use of these emerging communication tools with a greater sense of security.

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