Coping with Communications Sprawl: Managing the Growing Number of Comms Channels
Carrie Whamond of Alternit One in partnership with Daniel Klein of Steeleye
Regardless of the sector, communications are at the heart of every business. Never before has there been more access to communication platforms and technology than we have today. However, for firms operating in alternative investments, the capacity to govern and control this broad range of communication channels is key, not only for day-to-day operations, but also to meeting regulatory obligations.
In conversation at the HFM European Operational Leaders Summit, AlternitOne’s (A1) Carrie Whamond and SteelEye’s Dan Klein discussed how firms can manage the growing number of communication channels in a hybrid working environment.
Begin with the right design questions
Before creating a strategy and implementing it within a business, it is essential that firms begin by asking the right design questions. For instance, when it comes to permissions and controls, who should have access to what? What apps and channels will be used to communicate between teams to carry out day-to-day operations? Where is data going to be stored? What happens if the business starts to grow, and a new user joins a communication channel? How can all departments be aligned on the communications channels they use?
"When it comes to designing a communication channels strategy, it is better to start the process with policies and procedures before any IT is set up."
- Carrie Whamond
Once a firm has answers to the operational structure questions, be that starting from scratch or realigning current processes with regard to communications, they can then start to build those internal policies and procedures.
“Your IT strategy can be designed to align with your policies and create the controls you need so that data is recorded. With the right permissions and controls it does not matter what the communication channel is, there is always the ability to record the necessary data whether it is a phone call, teams meeting, WhatsApp or email” Carrie explained.
"Firms need to be able to recreate the lifecycle of their transactions should the regulator ask for it. It is critical to be able to capture and store all relevant information."
- Daniel Klein
Overcoming potential challenges
Managing a growing number of communications channels comes with its own set of challenges. Firms will have to accept they may have to take a strong hand [EG1] [EC2] to ensure that employees do not send information across channels that have not been authorised. This can be challenging, when some employees have already developed certain habits or come from different organisations with a different way of doing things. Overcoming old work patterns to embrace new ones can be difficult, but in the long term they are critical as they form part of the firm’s responsibility to the regulator and investor.
Part of the process of developing a compliant communications strategy will require open and continuous dialogue between leadership, IT, outsourced partners and employees. However, COOs will need to manage the insight and monitor the controls.
It is key that firms are seen to have taken reasonable steps to ensure communications are recorded, and the responsibility usually lies with the COO. It is important to manage issues around leavers, joiners, scaling SaaS platforms and departmental communications. Once a firm has a strategy in place it is critical to develop and audit the process. Questions to ask include: Is the surveillance that is in place working? Are quarterly spot checks being carried out? Are all new employees being recorded automatically, or has there been an assumption they will automatically be enrolled in the wider policies and procedures?
There is no doubt most firms are aware of the roadblocks and challenges and most have a whole range of different measures in place. Actively policing the day-to-day is key. In today’s world, the expectation from the regulator is to give 110%.
Alternit One is an experienced outsourced partner to the alternative investment sector and SteelEye provides an effective and robust platform for communications surveillance, trade surveillance, regulatory reporting and more. If you would like to speak to Carrie or Dan to discuss you firms communications strategy, do get in touch.