How better email management can support your business in meeting regulations

By Robin Bingeman | 29 June 2016

Financial service businesses are subject to stringent regulations. They are under increasing pressure to maintain accurate communications and must keep records for significant periods of time. For example, financial organisations are required to keep emails for six years whilst some data must be retained indefinitely so that cases can be reviewed.

Further to this, in 2011, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) issued a mandate requiring companies that take part in the country’s capital markets to record the mobile communications of all their employees who are involved in trading. The mandate includes the recording of SMS. This is still the case under the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

With such a high volume of professional and personal communication today taking place over email and SMS it can be difficult for organisations to manage and store an often overwhelming volume of digital communications. Not only can it be challenging to know where to begin, but finding a solution that does not affect day-to-day operations or cause unnecessary work for employees is often as crucial as meeting stringent regulations.

For financial service providers, I believe there are three core areas that must be considered when implementing an email management solution. The first is regulation: in order to meet increasing and ever-changing pressures from bodies such as the FCA, financial organisations need a solution that maintains the integrity of their communications.

Next, they need an adaptable solution: with constantly evolving regulations, it is important that the delivery of the solution can be adapted as necessary. Finally, as in any organisation, it is important that the email management solution you implement enables efficient processes for employees and saves time where possible.

Let us first consider the integrity of communications in the financial sector. With emails often being called upon during case reviews and even in legal disputes, it is crucial that you are confident in the accuracy of these communications. If an employee were falsely accused of insider trading, for example, being confident of a tamper evident email trail would support in defending their innocence. Any email communication they had received or sent in relation to the stock would be proven as clean and their case might be settled more quickly or even out of court.

Next, in the face of constantly changing regulation it is important to consider how adaptable your email management solution is. When the FSA issued their mandate in 2011, many organisations were no doubt unprepared. Even if they had already implemented an email management solution, creating records of mobile communication in addition to this would be a challenge.

It is advisable to implement a solution that can be applied across, and adapted for, different kinds of communications such as email, SMS and Instant Message (IM).    

Finally, the solution you implement should not interfere with day-to-day business or your employees’ existing responsibilities. In 2015, the number of business emails sent and received per user per day totalled 122. It is the dominant form of communication in professional life today. Whilst this makes it all the more important for emails to be retained in line with regulations, it is also important to consider the effect of this volume on your employees and to implement a solution that does not make email management more challenging.

Emails must be easily searchable. If a communication is questioned, you will be required to retrieve proof quickly; there is no need to spend unnecessary resource on finding emails that have been lost in an ineffective archive. Another important consideration is that email servers can quickly reach capacity with such a large volume of communications sent and received each day. A solution that stores emails off the mail server will free up capacity for incoming communications and will support in making the mail server run smoothly.

As a business operating in the financial industries, the integrity of your communications and ability to meet ever-changing regulation is crucial. In addition, the implementation of a solution that supports your employees in working more efficiently is an important consideration.

To businesses that have not yet implemented an email management solution, I would advise you make this a priority. As communication becomes increasingly digital, it is vital that you are prepared to meet stringent regulations and adapt to industry changes. To those that already have a solution in place, it is important that you stay abreast of regulatory changes and adapt your solution accordingly.

By Robin Bingeman, Managing Director, Cryoserver.

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