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Why Compliance Officers are Unhappy with their Communications Archiving Solutions

Archives: the word itself conjures up images of cobweb-ridden dark spaces deep underground where few people are brave enough to venture. Our university library archive was infamously known as, “The Stacks,” and it offered exactly the kind of experience that you’d expect from a word like, “archives.” Store whatever document it is that you have, tag it, and then forget about ever going back into the depths of that sub-basement to retrieve that content again.

In today’s era of communications archiving, is that the kind of experience that you want to have? There is a superior option to storing, tagging, and losing all hope of ever retrieving the content again. With today’s volatility in the market, constantly changing regulations, new guidelines coming in from Europe to protect consumers against the bias in high-risk artificial intelligence systems, “set it and forget it” isn’t a viable practice. Communications Compliance must be relentless and routinely updated to meet new guidelines as well as be capable of retroactively applying those same guidelines to archived communications.

Are customers happy with their communications archiving solutions?

At the end of the day – it’s about the customer experience. If a customer is happy with their archiving solution, then everyone wins. However, if a customer is unhappy, well, we can all guess how that scenario typically plays out.

Apparently, the data seem to suggest that customers could go either way; it’s a 50-50 draw if they’re going to be happy – or unhappy – with their communications archiving solution.  Answers were collected via a randomized recent public poll conducted on Linkedin in May 2021. Bottom line – there’s room for improvement.

What makes financial firms unhappy with their communications archiving solutions?

Perhaps it’s easier to relay what makes customers unhappy. One of the biggest complaints of compliance officers is the requirement for specialty hardware to perform the surveillance and communications archiving. Integrating a third-party’s hardware imposes an added burden on the client; additional physical storage, maintenance costs, and asset management responsibilities are typically unwelcome “extras.” Not to mention the unhappiness associated with complex and slow archive searches, a lack of connectors to integrate with existing tools, and so on.

Speaking of storage, Saving money sounds like an idea that would make a financial firm happy with their communications archiving solution – but the only way that the cost of such storage stays low is if you store it and forget about it. Exporting costs, odd pricing models, and “private data centers” are making it very hard to reduce TCO when choosing an archiving over surveillance.

We’re not aware of any financial institution that’s so confident and so pleased with their existing communications compliance solution that they’ll never have to consult the archived data again. But, when they do (because they always do), the short-term money savings upfront quickly sours into a bad idea with added costs and time delays to retrieve – and then analyze – the data that was stored. Not to mention that this approach assumes that the archiving storage format is still compatible with legacy market analysis solutions, that there is version control built into the system, and that the data stored are easily accessed. Audit-proof solutions require access for at least a decade, and of course, we’re all agreed that technology doesn’t change that much within 10 years … in a nutshell: more unhappiness.

Here’s one more comment on the “set it and forget it” theme. Compliance officers are busy, overworked people. They’re already battling the happy-unhappy battle each day at work. As soon as you tell them that they need to regularly – and manually – make communications archiving system adjustments with regularity, they pretty much lose it. Their unhappiness is palpable by this stage.

Customers are unhappy when the one compliance officer at the firm with sole access to the archive, and we’ll call him “Joseph,” quits and joins their competitor. Ouch! Banks could have managed Joseph’s departure if they had a communications archiving solution which offered streamlined access control with built-in safeguards to protect against the, “What if Joseph gets hit by a bus or quits?” scenario. Not that anyone would be happy if Joseph got hit by a bus or quit, but if he did, if they had robust access controls with different permissions for read-write, customers wouldn’t be unhappy.

Who’s the unhappiest group of workers at a bank? It could be the IT team that’s under-resourced and has the unfortunate task of maintaining all of the spaghetti-cobbled legacy plus third-party solutions so that they continue to operate. The attorneys are generally okay with making requests for transaction data in the preparation of potential litigation initiatives. However, those poor buggers who have to plod through e-Discovery only realize that there are about eight different “TPS report” that they have to first file before they can even secure permission to request to access the data. Fun, fun!

So, the question remains open. Are YOU happy with your communications archiving solution?

We’ll try and explore the WHY in the next couple of articles and survey questions.


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