While compliance officers are more confident in their firms’ use of new communications channels for business, including social media, they’re concerned about the retention and production of text messages, with most firms that allow their employees to conduct business via texts stating they have “minimal to no” confidence in their ability to produce such messages during a regulatory exam, according to a survey released Friday by Smarsh.
In its fifth annual report, Electronic Communications Compliance Survey, Smarsh found that of the 274 financial services compliance professionals polled, nearly three-quarters (72%) believe supervising the types of messages sent by their firm’s employees is critical to identify risk in their organization, up 13% from last year.
The compliance professionals polled hailed from the RIA, BD, insurance, hedge fund, private equity and banking industries.
Eighty-one percent said message supervision delivers “actionable insight” for the business, while 64% of respondents indicate responsibility for all non-compliance-related data production requests related to litigation, e-discovery and HR investigations.
“The oversight of electronic communications has evolved to become far more than the cursory, check-the-box review of email that existed years ago,” said Stephen Marsh, CEO and founder of Smarsh, in statement announcing the poll results. “Today, with more data points and better technology at their disposal, compliance teams are more empowered to identify risky communications and then mitigate potentially damaging issues before they become serious.”
Marsh added that with the compliance role now being “elevated in importance within an organization, convergence with IT and marketing initiatives is increasing,” with “compliance becoming an enabler of social media usage, and a key part of cybersecurity strategy.”
Sixty-six percent of those polled said that what concerned them most about cybersecurity was preparing for targeted regulatory exams or regulatory scrutiny, while 53% stated a big concern was having appropriate incident response planning in place and being prepared to respond to actual data breaches.
This year’s poll also found a greater use of social media and mobile engagement, with all of the “big three” social media channels — Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — being permitted for business communications at higher rates than last year.
For example, in 2011, just 39% of respondents allowed LinkedIn, compared with 72% today.
For the first time in five years, “new and emerging communications channels” were cited as a concern for fewer than half of the respondents.