Smarsh, helping customers get ahead of the risk within their electronic communications, released its ninth annual Electronic Communications Compliance Survey Report. The survey of more than 300 compliance professionals in the financial services industry finds that organizations must rethink their approaches to the adoption, retention and oversight of electronic communications to accommodate modern electronic communication technologies in the workplace, including personal mobile devices.

The survey indicates that many compliance teams are struggling with limited human resources to oversee the fast-changing electronic communications compliance landscape. Nearly half of respondents (45%) said they are in constant catch-up mode, rather than proactive mode, when it comes to electronic communication compliance. Without adequate technology to automate the collection, preservation, and review of an increasingly diverse volume of electronic communications, organizations are struggling to keep pace.

In addition, prohibiting younger workers from using personal devices and messaging applications to conduct business is no longer a viable option. As new multi-modal networks such as integrated voice, video and chats are requested or approved for use, compliance teams will need to get ahead of retention and supervision standards.

Additional Key Findings

  • SMS/Text is a leading compliance gap and perceived source of risk. The top perceived sources of risk for survey respondents were SMS/text messaging (77%) and collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams (36%). Respondents also reported compliance gaps in which they lacked archiving and supervision solutions for many allowed popular communication channels, including Instagram (50%) and SMS/text messaging (40%).
  • Use of personal devices is now the standard. Three-quarters (75%) of those surveyed allow employees to use personal mobile devices at work. At the same time, 44% of respondents lacked confidence that their organizations were capturing and archiving all business communications via allowed mobile devices.

Turning the Compliance Function into A Source of Business Value

Compliance teams understand that much of what they do can help manage overall corporate risk in support of other departments including IT, marketing and HR. Collected data is increasingly being leveraged beyond audit/examination requirements to transform compliance from a cost center into a value driver 

Archived data can be extremely effective to find potential violations of fraud, data privacy, human resources and legal rules. Nearly half of respondents (47%) now believe that electronic communications compliance is more than a cost/risk mitigation center, as it can also contribute to topline growth by maintaining valuable customer intelligence. This figure is up from survey results in prior years, when an average of 39% of respondents in 2017, and 32% in 2018, provided alternative use cases for archived data utilization. 

Beyond the improved identification of risks, firms are recognizing that the creation of a centralized data store of communications can also function as a revenue-building asset to the business, especially as providers adopt emerging artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. These new stores of communications can produce valuable insights into the needs and preferences of prospects and clients, and can be harvested to improve social media campaigns, messaging, and to equip sales teams with additional insights into their targeted firms.