" class="no-js "lang="en-US"> Channel Bans for Business Communication Deemed Ineffective at Mitigating Off-channel Communications Risks, New Study Finds - Fintech Finance
Monday, May 20, 2024

Channel Bans for Business Communication Deemed Ineffective at Mitigating Off-channel Communications Risks, New Study Finds

In light of a series of regulatory actions in the United States, the majority (59%) of firms have banned the use of WhatsApp, WeChat, and similar applications according to new research released today by Global Relay, the leading provider of electronic communication compliance and archiving solutions. Despite the majority taking this approach, only 3% strongly believe that channel bans are an effective solution to ensure compliant communications at their organization. Additionally, 13% believe they are somewhat effective, while just over a quarter (28%) are unsure about their efficacy. It’s clear that a better, more effective solution to this problem is required.

The survey informs Global Relay’s Industry Insights: Compliant Communication 2023 report, a compilation of responses from compliance officers across the financial services sector as well as other regulated industries about their management of communications channels and devices.

When asked what their key concerns were regarding enduring compliance for business communications, 62% cited that they were most worried about getting staff to comply with recordkeeping and supervision rules, while over half (54%) stated that they are having difficulty monitoring all communication channels. Given the rapid pace of innovation, this will only become more difficult as new methods of communication open up.

“The fact that organizations have decided to ban these communications channels is a clear sign that they understand the severity of the risk they pose, and this is an attempt to ensure they have a degree of control over the issue,” comments Chip Jones, Executive Vice President at Global Relay. “Added to that, when – and if – the regulator comes knocking, they can clearly show that they have taken action to attempt to mitigate this breach of regulation.”

Jones added, “However, it’s clear that there not only needs to be a more effective approach to ensuring firms stay on the right side of the rules when it comes to monitoring communications channels risk, there also needs to be a cultural shift within organizations. Currently, getting people to take measures seriously is more challenging than staying on top of all communications activity, which would certainly be enough to keep any compliance manager awake at night. This balance needs to shift.”

To date, the U.S. has been the focus for much of the regulatory action against off-channel communications; however, respondents agreed that the U.K. would be following suit with almost half (49%) of respondents believing that U.K. regulators would be taking action next. These predictions are coming to fruition, with the Prudential Regulation Authority recently issuing a censure against a bank in the U.K. for its failure to monitor WhatsApp communications. However, while firms believe that U.K. regulatory action is coming, only one in 10 (10%) of firms said they will be prepared when they do.

“A tougher regulatory stance will naturally ignite a sense of alarm across compliance teams, however a crack-down in the U.K. will help firms change the culture around communications compliance and ensure that the wider business also takes the issue seriously,” comments Rob Mason, Director Regulatory Intelligence at Global Relay. “Compliance teams can continually remind their colleagues of the importance of meeting regulatory obligations, but nothing is quite as effective as the regulator handing a hefty penalty to one of your competitors.”

Mason continues, “Regardless of regulatory action, firms need to reconsider their approach and embark on a strategy they trust and know will be effective. Paradoxically, the solution for compliant communication may not be to limit communications, but to seek enablement rather than restriction.

“The logic is clear, if you have a solution that allows you to capture business communications, you will be compliant. So, if you enable and capture all communication channels, you remove the potential for messages to fly under the radar, mitigate your risk, and can be confident that your business is communicating compliantly, or be able to determine instances where you are not. The solution to managing communications technology, is the technology itself.”


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