When it comes to collaboration tools, firms struggle to keep up with security and compliance

Surveying 100 key executives across financial services, Theta Lake found that 83% of respondents are turning off key productivity and usability features of collaboration platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex due to their organizations’ technical inability to adhere to relevant regulatory compliance and security requirements.

collaboration tools compliance

Analysis showed that the exponential adoption of collaboration tools since early 2020, coupled with a reliance on legacy archiving and supervision technology built for email, has challenged financial services firms.

While 91% of financial services professionals reported using two to six collaboration tools, 63% were concerned about the ability to share data and communicate in ways that circumvented email-based monitoring and archiving. That directly correlated to 83% of respondents broadly disabling features such as whiteboarding, screensharing, and meeting chat, instead of strategically implementing purpose-built technologies to ensure compliance and enable collaboration and productivity.

“The pandemic is said to have ‘turbo-charged’ digitalization which has brought both benefits and challenges,” commented Susannah Hammond, Senior Regulatory Intelligence Expert at Thomson Reuters.

“New, hybrid, ways of working bring new risks – regulators are geography neutral – it doesn’t matter to them whether you are working from an office, or your garden shed, you still need to be able to evidence compliance and compliant activities. Pandemic regulatory forbearance is coming to an end and regulators will expect risk and control infrastructures to have kept pace with shifting and flexible working practices.”

Collaboration tools need appropriate compliance oversight

  • The top three collaboration features considered to be threats or challenges to privacy and security include: files uploaded or transferred in chats, links shared in chats or onscreen and screenshares. 63% of respondents indicated that their top security concern is the circumvention of email and sharing of confidential information through screenshares or webcams.
  • Video and chat usage have surged, increasing more than 70% and 50%, respectively, since Theta Lake’s 2020 Benchmark Report.

The rapid adoption and increasing use of collaboration tools creates risks for companies and a corresponding need for appropriate compliance oversight. 2020 saw IT teams mobilize to implement collaboration platforms to provide flexibility, efficiency, and business continuity, however compliance and supervision considerations were often secondary.

Recent guidance from the SEC, FINRA, FCA, and ESMA indicate that demonstrable electronic communications capture, retention, and supervision controls are essential for the compliant use of collaboration and chat tools. To meet these regulatory requirements, address compliance concerns, and unlock the full ROI of key capabilities from Webex by Cisco, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral Office, Zoom, and more, organizations must use purpose-built security and compliance technology solutions.

“The reliance on collaboration tools to keep business communications flowing is at an all-time high and clearly here to stay,” said Stacey English, Director of Market Intelligence at Theta Lake.

“Adhering to compliance and security requirements with these new communication types, especially for financial services and other regulated industries is proving a key concern and challenge. This report sheds light on that challenge and key areas for risk management, as well as providing a roadmap for organizations to continue scaling collaboration tools usage while meeting compliance needs.”

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