UK financial services organisations unprepared for new mobile phone regulation

The majority of UK financial services companies are still in the dark about an important new regulation coming into effect on 14 November. Independent research from Vanson Bourne, commissioned by Orange UK, found senior IT decision-makers at just 16 percent of UK-based financial services organisations had unprompted awareness of the details of a new Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulation (PS10/17) requiring the recording and storage of all relevant mobile phone conversations made by traders.

While only 38 percent were aware some regulation regarding mobile calls was being introduced at some point, 30 percent did not know there was any upcoming FSA regulation at all.

“The good news is it’s not too late. The bad news is, it soon will be, and those companies for whom mobile call recording is about to become compulsory need to get compliant – and quickly.” said Max Taylor, corporate marketing director, Orange.

“According to the FSA Conduct of Business Sourcebook – the bible for anyone involved in compliance in the financial sector – employers are responsible for taking all possible reasonable steps to record relevant mobile phone conversations in order to comply. Businesses are already recording and storing their landline calls, it’s just a matter of getting organised in the days leading up to November 14th. There are software solutions out there which can be up and running in just a few working days, designed specifically to help businesses meet these new regulations, and being compliant needn’t require high levels of capital expenditure.“

Employers at those organisations regulated by the FSA and affected by the new rules have a challenge ahead of them to make sure that all calls made on any mobile provided to their staff for work purposes are recorded and stored; a vital element of successful compliance will be in educating employees. While 42 percent of respondents favoured a compulsory online course to take staff through their role in complying with this regulation, a worrying 46 percent either had no plans for education on the regulation, or will not make it compulsory, suggesting that compliance will not be assured.

In terms of who holds overall responsibility within the organisations for this FSA compliance, the research uncovered a mixed response. Questioning the senior IT decision makers who are generally responsible for mobile phones, the research found that most commonly, businesses had a chief compliance officer (48 percent of respondents) whose role is to prepare for regulations. However, in 24 percent of cases, responsibility fell to the chief information officer, who would be most likely to manage mobile phones, emails, and call recording and storage facilities.

“Any compliance within an organisation is only as good as the education and enforcement which surrounds it. When it comes to regulations regarding mobile phone use in particular it is absolutely essential a robust technological solution is complemented by clear employee education,” added Max Taylor. “We’re working with many customers right now to ensure they are compliant with these regulations, but once mobile phones are enabled to record all these calls, companies need to ensure staff members don’t do anything to unintentionally undermine their compliance efforts, such as using a personal mobile or one the company is unaware of.”

“The first step in ensuring compliance with mobile phone regulations is knowing which employees need a mobile phone for work, and then ensuring those phones are compliant and the only ones used for work purposes,” said Paul Manyweathers, of Orange’s technology solution partner Voxsmart. “It’s not difficult to comply with this new regulation, but it does require businesses to understand what is expected of them, and then to educate their employees accordingly. As with all FSA requirements, non-compliance will have very serious consequences for those firms failing to put proper systems and controls in place.”

The research found that on average, 35 percent of financial services organisations’ employees are provided with a mobile phone by their business. This means it will potentially be more complicated to control the use of mobile phones by staff who may be using personal equipment for work. This is compounded by the fact that fewer than half of the 99 percent of those businesses who do supply at least some of their employees with handsets, have remote access to all of those handsets.

Vanson Bourne surveyed senior IT decision makers at 100 medium and large UK financial services companies during September 2011.