Remote working at scale: Why financial services compliance doesn’t have to take a backseat

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COVID-19 – the world’s most severe health crisis in more than a century – has been described as a black swan event which caught most of the world by surprise. As the reality of the global pandemic set in, entire economies and industries have shifted to new operational models premised on remote working.

Like most other industries, the financial sector is focused on business continuity and meeting client expectations even in times of uncertainty. However, its highly regulated nature means compliance remains a perennial business concern – which adds another dimension to the business challenges amidst the coronavirus crisis.


The push to mobile

New compliance requirements were introduced into the financial services industry in response to the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) scandal in 2012. Since then, firms must record and capture every workplace communication that could result in an order or a transaction – including phone calls, text messages and electronic communications.

Now governed by the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II) in the EU, financial institutions may find compliance more difficult, as they hustle to move their employees into working from home arrangements at very short notice. The reason? More people relying on personal devices, which may not be adequately set up or have the capability to record and store all professional communications.

Clients have been pushing financial institutions to loosen the reins when it comes to individual mobile communications policies. This is particularly so for communications made using personal or company-issued mobile devices on the trading floor. Yet, while clients are keen to implement SMS or WhatsApp type of messaging services, these can be problematic when it comes to complying with industry regulations.

The significance of COVID-19 might be the final push to review the stringency of regulations across the financial services sector, as firms move to deliver the same services and manage trading from remote locations.


Trading from home

The authorities have begun to acknowledge that financial professionals who are working from home won’t have access to the same standard of technology. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has relaxed regulations around recording communications, for example, during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

While offices remain closed, firms will not be held accountable should phone calls not be recorded. However, ESMA clearly notes this is a temporary measure and directs firms to start recording calls as soon as staff return to the office.

In addition, to ensure firms are complying with MiFID II’s recording requirement, the Financial Conduct Authority has advised firms to review the steps they can take to reduce any further impact on their business.


Adopting cloud apps

In addition to compliance gaps, firms are also concerned that working from home may compromise security and data protection, and that teams could experience connectivity issues.

There are simpler solutions available for this conundrum though. Cloud-based applications can be easily and quickly installed on multiple employee devices, which is essential given the distributed nature of work teams these days. They also enable IT teams to efficiently update user devices and enable entire teams to remain connected, regardless of their location. Cloud-based management web portals also simplify administration at scale, minimising turnarounds on provisioning and updates.

Using cloud-based applications such as Telstra MultiLine powered by Movius, employees can work flexibly without compromising their personal privacy, while ensuring regulatory compliance. Telstra MultiLine is built specifically for the mobile workplace and offers secure business service numbers, separate from the employee’s SIM-based personal number. It can capture, store and manage regulated communications to meet ESMA and MiFID II requirements. Users get a carrier-grade service for better call quality when making and receiving calls, with the added assurance of having critical data protected through the integration of enterprise mobility management (EMM) and mobile device management (MDM).

As the world grapples with the reality of COVID-19, the financial sector itself is looking for ways to lessen the impact of a health crisis on global economies. Ensuring businesses remain compliant, regardless of the working environment, is a step towards reducing such economic disruptions.

Find out more about Telstra MultiLine.