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    A New Phase in the Evolution of Communications Oversight

    Smarsh®, a leading provider of hosted archiving and compliance solutions for email and electronic communications, recently released its third annual Electronic Communications Compliance Survey Report at FINRA’s 2013 Annual Conference. While challenges surrounding the oversight and retention of electronic communications remain widespread, this year’s study reveals that compliance professionals in financial services are more comfortable with the “new normal” of greater regulatory scrutiny, evolving communications tools and more complexity in the demands around email surveillance.

    “This year’s survey results illustrate how compliance is adjusting to meet the challenges presented by social media and mobile devices,” said Stephen Marsh, CEO and founder of Smarsh. “As professionals move past the initial fear and uncertainty and become more familiar with the day-to-day practical issues associated with handling oversight of these channels and devices, confidence is growing in their ability to meet their compliance obligations.”

    A New Phase in the Evolution of Communications Oversight - slide 1

    Click through for findings from a new communication compliance survey, conducted by Smarsh.

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    For the third straight year, respondents cited new and changing regulations (67 percent), new communications channels (64 percent) and increased scrutiny/enforcement (63 percent) as their top three concerns related to electronic message compliance, yet the overall rate of concern is down. While not cited as frequently, concerns related to the procedural elements of designing and maintaining electronic communications compliance programs, such as managing multiple archiving systems, inability to produce data upon request and inability to provide evidence of supervision, saw double-digit increases this year.

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    Use of social media by financial services professionals continues to grow. LinkedIn leads the way with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents now permitting its use.

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    Regardless of whether they permit or prohibit use, approximately four in five respondents have policies governing use of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Far fewer respondents report having an archiving/supervision system in place to support those policies, although the rate did increase year-over-year.

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    Respondents who allow and govern employee use of social media and other emerging forms of communication were far more confident in their ability to provide specifically requested messages within a reasonable time frame than those who ban its use were in their ability to prove prohibition is working.

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    Use of company-issued and personal devices is on the rise, with iOS (Apple) devices surpassing BlackBerry for the first time among respondents.

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    In correlation with this increased adoption, policies governing use of these devices are also growing. However, the use of archiving/supervision systems to capture and retain the multiple forms of mobile electronic communications (i.e. email, text messages, social media) lags behind.

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    As with social media and other emerging communications channels, respondents whose firms allow BYOD (bring your own device) have more confidence in the capture and archiving of business communications on these devices than “prohibitors” have in their ability to prove that their policy of prohibition is effective.

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