'....Let's start a Whatsapp Group....' Round Table : August, London.

31 August 2017

As a key player in the Trade & Communication Surveillance ecosystem VoxSmart has spent the last 3 years researching and developing technology solutions to emerging capital markets threats which now places the firm at the centre of the market on mobile communication compliance. 

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Last week we hosted our quarterly Trade Surveillance Roundtable in London. The discussion was moderated by VoxSmart CEO, Oliver Blower, and featured a range of senior banking MD’s, Front Office Surveillance Compliance decision makers. 

 

The objective? To create an Industry forum to discuss emerging challenges, opportunities and threats and to debate the benefits of technological assistance. 

 

The discussion centred around three main topics;

 

- The emerging risk of ‘Mobile’ within regulated financial markets?

- The rapid consumerization of business communication

- When to trust and when/how to monitor?

- And finally, what tools do we need to more effectively monitor business/conduct risk?

 

The aim of the lunch was to help industry professionals harness the power of collaboration, whilst benefitting from the collective input and guidance from those industry peers who are striving to manage this emerging risk on a daily basis. 

 

The first issue we wanted to discuss was the balance between mobility and risk, how do firms enable mobility AND mitigate risk. All participants were unanimous in their endorsement for embracing mobility whilst acknowledging the challenges with one commenting that ‘…mobile complicates more things than it simplifies…’ going on to say ‘…we are experiencing an enormous amount of frustration on the trading floor. Our devices are so heavily locked down that we can’t even check train times!...’. 

 

Many of the participants indicated that they are currently trying to solve the iPhone vs Compliance problem as they seem to be the favoured device for those looking to operate a Bring Your Own Device (“BYOD”) policy. But can they ever be truly compliant? ‘…I read recently that even Apple themselves are checking their own employees phones. What does that tell you? We just can’t trust it!...’

 

 

At this point we brought the conversation around to channels of communication, in particular 3rd Party Instant Messaging ; are banks really using WhatsApp? In short, Yes!. “It’s been demonised because you can’t record it. But if you can, then yes! We want to enable it TODAY!” 

 

One highly experienced market participant observed that many Front Office users are familiar with the Bloomberg Terminal commenting ‘… It’s an institution, but they’ve yet to fully master mobile..’ Not only is Bloomberg  losing favour with customers but the additional mobile license fee is eyewaterinw ‘…How can you force banks to pay for Instant Messaging when our customers are asking to communicate on a free platform like Whatsapp?...” We believe that this is the start of a step change within the industry and the consumerization of business communication. ‘…We can’t be expected to operate in two modes between our professional and private lives and neither do our customers, especially if you’re a frequent traveler…’” 

 

Our customers firmly believe mobile is the future. VoxSmart Chief Commercial Officer, David Delaney commented ‘…We recently spoke to a large Spanish bank who has removed all their retail branch fixed line telephony in favour of Mobiles…’

 

The conversation then moved on to Monitoring. How are you monitoring you trading communications? ‘…We’re not…’ commented one market participant, ‘…there are simply too many channels!. We had an investigation recently where we could only retrieve the email feed but the trade happened across 3 different communication platforms and mediums. We need to find that single consolidated pane of glass….”

 

Many in the room agreed that actual trade data is readily and actively monitored, but capturing the communication pre and post trade will require a wholesale re-think to the firms surveillance strategy. 

 

‘…They could find the trade, but no order, mostly because it happened on their mobile..’ said one participant. At this point another participant commented that many of his traders have long standing relationships with their clients and those relationships are nearly always on their mobiles!

 

The final topic was focussed on the need to quickly improve monitoring and how market participants are doing it today;

 

‘…Our biggest problem is consistent translation..’ said one participant ‘… I waste so much time sourcing foreign language speakers. We recently spent three weeks sourcing a Mandarin translator for a flagged conversation only to discover that  he was talking to his grandma!”

 

So can you ban non-English communication or trading?” “No?” “Our policy is that all communication is conducted in English and we’re a foreign language bank!.” Said one senior compliance participant. 

 

But is this down to cost and resource? ‘…We’ve massively expanded our surveillance team but now were being told we have to reduce the team and make the technology work…’ 

 

We couldn't of said it better ourselves and so we agreed to continue the conversation, as one of the participants suggested, over a a WhatsApp group!

 

It seems there is a battle inside and out of the office, enable mobiles and empower the workforce, or ban mobiles and protect the business. 

 

To us, the answer is simple. Let technology be the solution.

 

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