Smarsh Report Reveals Challenges in Oversight of Electronic Communications
Smarsh recently released its second annual Electronic Communications Compliance Survey report, revealing the findings of a survey of compliance professionals in the financial services industry. The report examines the concerns of compliance officers in today’s demanding regulatory environment and indicates significant challenges in practice for electronic recordkeeping and supervision, particularly for mobile devices, social media and websites.
“This year’s survey findings illuminate the shifts underway related to electronic communications compliance,” said Stephen Marsh, CEO and founder of Smarsh. “The retention and oversight of electronic communications has becoming increasingly complicated as employees are presented with a growing number of options to communicate-from instant messages and mobile devices to websites and social collaboration tools-and compliance officers must adjust quickly and comprehensively to mitigate risks to their firms.”
Mobile devices and communications a top concern
Over the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of firms that allow a variety of mobile devices for business purposes. Extending compliance practices to oversee these communication devices is a top three compliance concern, cited by 63 percent of survey respondents. More than half of firms now allow iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets on the corporate network.
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 personal device. Archiving and supervision practices governing communication from these devices, however, lag behind those in place for laptops and desktop computers. Today, the majority of compliance professionals (65 percent) said they would have minimal to no confidence in their ability to produce text messages during examinations.
Firms adapt to social communication channels
New communication channels remain the second biggest concern for firms. However, organizations are adapting and increasingly taking steps to formalize their position on social media use. Nearly eighty percent of respondents indicated they have written policies to address use of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, a significant increase from the year before, when less than half indicated they had a policy in place. However, the findings reveal that when it comes to putting archiving and supervision systems in place for social media, most firms (more than 60 percent) have not yet taken action.
“Social media is following a similar adoption path to instant messaging and email,” said Marsh. “As with those communications channels, we are seeing firms first put policies in place. Then, they turn their attention to enforcement and how they can effectively and efficiently supervise and archive the communications – ultimately leading them to employ a technology solution.”
Websites in use, but retention and supervision systems lag
Most financial services firms have an online presence through their websites, which have become increasingly interactive with videos, slideshows, Flash and other interactive elements. Respondents indicated that website content was the second most requested communication type during regulatory examinations, second only to email. At the same time, 41 percent of respondents indicated having minimal to no confidence in their ability to produce website content during an examination, and only 35 percent reported having an archiving and supervision system in place for websites.
The full survey report is available for download at www.smarsh.com/compliancesurvey.