09 Sep Change and Climb – Communication
This year, the adoption of new working arrangements has strained businesses across all industries and the Finance sector is no exception.
In fact, you could argue that the Finance sector has a tougher time than most in ensuring its communications meet the required standard. In an industry based on trust, maintaining transparency, being accessible and ensuring clients feel supported is essential to ensuring that relationships endure.
Then there is the FCA regulation regarding communication to contend with; a level of regulatory guidance that most sectors don’t face.
The FCA requires firms to:
- Record Telephone conversations made using approved-for-work devices.
- Record all electronic communications made, including emails, fax and instant messaging communications.
- Retain such records for a minimum of 6 months.
- Hold such records on a readily accessible storage medium for future review by the FCA.
- Hold records in a safe environment that safeguards sensitive data and prohibits tampering.
Recording internal communication in this way is, as you know, not required. However, it’s important to have a system of checks and balances in place to ensure that remote workers are able to communicate with clients in a way that is compliant. The FCA also advises against the use of non-company-approved devices for external communication – if your remote team don’t have effective channels through which to contact clients might they be tempted to use unauthorised methods and devices?
A well-considered remote communications strategy goes further than compliance. Effective solutions will bring both your business and its customer further benefits:
- Seamless service delivery. From a clients’ perspective working remotely should have no impact on your service delivery. Ensure your team are just as effective out of the office with solutions that don’t compromise your service offering in any way. A vital component of this is ensuring easy access to resources. Whether you opt for a cloud storage platform or enable remote access to your office network it’s important to ensure file resources are easily accessible to remote staff while being centrally managed to ensure data security.
- Faster, real-time collaboration. Don’t be overly reliant on email. Modern communication platforms focus heavily on quick and efficient, real-time communication channels. Features such as document co-authoring, instant messaging and the ability to launch virtual meetings will fast-track collaboration and avoid the clunky, time-consuming tedium of email threads.
- Quality Monitoring. As we’ve mentioned, recording calls and emails for compliance purposes is extremely important. You’ll also likely want to record communications for quality and training purposes. Hosted VoIP systems allow for easy deployment of call-monitoring features with minimal hardware investment and virtually no maintenance overheads.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to remote business communications. There are a huge range of options, the suitability of which will depend on a number of factors such as your current budget, future plans and the extent to which you wish to invest in remote-working solutions. That said, when considering a solution to enable staff to work remotely we recommend asking yourself the following question:
“Would I feel comfortable using this setup on a permanent basis?”
If the answer to that is ‘no’ then avoid! Compromised stop-gaps are never something we’d recommend.
Finally, with so much to consider, here’s a checklist to help you assess the sufficiency of your current arrangements and how you might want to go forward:
- Do I have full visibility over all compliance-critical communications? This means having the structures in place to log, record and retrieve (for review purposes) all compliance-regulated conversations.
- Do remote-working Team members feel isolated? Without multiple, always-open communication channels working remotely can be a lonely, dispiriting experience. Consider structuring the working day around regular video/audio catchup meetings. This may involve a small investment in a video conferencing platform as well as headsets/webcams so that employees can participate. Additionally, a platform featuring instant messaging is essential for those informal, work-related conversations.
- Do clients notice a difference when team members work remotely? They shouldn’t! Your Team should be able to receive and transfer calls as though they were in the office. They should have easy access to the resources they need, they should have access to a communal calendar to track meetings and upcoming events and task management tools should be used where necessary to keep workflows on schedule.
Ultimately, the tools to enable effective remote working have never been so wide-ranging and so accessible to companies of all sizes.
Where do I go from here?
Here at Urban Network, we understand the importance of communication in the Finance sector. We understand that compliance with the FCA’s Conduct of Business Sourcebook is your top priority, and this involves monitoring of communications to not only ensure compliant behaviour but also to drive improvements and offer the best possible service to your customers. We also understand that in an industry where relationships are founded on trust, your customers demand a seamless, highly efficient, composed service delivery experience. One which inspires confidence in your company and ensures the relationship will last.
To learn more about tackling your challenges, please get your free copy of our ‘Change and Climb’ guide tailored to businesses in the financial sector.
Our experience working with Finance sector firms means we are well-versed in the challenges you are facing. We welcome the opportunity to provide you with a free, no-obligation discovery call – in which we’ll offer guidance in helping you answer the questions contained within this article, and map-out solutions to tackle those challenges, quickly, before they become an issue.