Firms Struggle with WhatsApp Bans Amid Compliance Challenges

Global Relay has published its second annual Industry Insights Report: Compliant Communication 2024, highlighting ongoing compliance challenges faced by financial firms in enforcing bans on WhatsApp and other communication platforms at work.

The report reveals that despite a 15% decrease from the previous year, 43% of firms still rely on WhatsApp bans as a primary compliance measure. The survey, which included compliance, surveillance, and risk leaders in the financial services sector, found that while half of the respondents believe these bans could withstand regulatory examinations, enforcing them among staff remains a significant challenge. Nearly 65% of firms reported difficulties in ensuring employees adhere to communication rules, marking a major hurdle in managing non-compliant off-channel communications.

Communication surveillance technology is gaining traction, with 79% of firms now using these tools to detect misconduct and assess culture risk, up 4% from the previous year. This proactive monitoring approach has reduced the number of firms struggling to oversee all communication channels from 54% to 24%.

Global Relay’s Chief Strategy Officer, Alex Viall, stressed the urgency of adapting to the changing business communications landscape. “Asset managers, broker-dealers, and investment banks are all grappling with the WhatsApp conundrum,” Viall said. “We engineered Global Relay’s unified platform to help institutions adapt to the fast-evolving business communications recordkeeping environment.”

The report also noted a significant rise in the adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, which have surged from 36% in 2023 to 53% in 2024. This shift reflects financial institutions’ efforts to balance the benefits and risks of personal device usage at work, with 45% updating their BYOD policies in response to regulatory pressures.

Looking ahead, the report highlights a cautious but growing interest in integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into compliance processes. While 42% of global firms are considering AI adoption within the next year, North American firms show notable hesitance, with 65% having no immediate plans to implement AI.

The report underscores the dynamic nature of regulatory requirements and compliance strategies, serving as a critical gauge for the industry’s responsiveness to regulatory actions and fines.

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