Financial firms grapple with WhatsApp compliance amid regulatory pressures


Global Relay has recently published its second annual Industry Insights Report: Compliant Communication 2024.

The findings highlight the ongoing struggle within financial firms to enforce bans on WhatsApp and other communication platforfinancial compliance 2024ms at work, a crucial step in maintaining compliance amidst increasing regulatory scrutiny.

Despite a 15% decrease year-over-year, 43% of firms still rely on WhatsApp bans as a primary compliance measure, according to the report.

The survey, which involved compliance, surveillance, and risk leaders across the financial services sector, underlined that although half of the respondents believe these bans can withstand regulatory examinations, the ongoing challenge lies in staff compliance. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of firms reported difficulties in ensuring employees adhere to communication rules, marking a significant obstacle in managing non-compliant off-channel communications.

The report also revealed that communication surveillance technology is gaining traction, with 79% of firms utilizing these tools to detect misconduct and assess culture risk—a 4% increase from the previous year. This rise indicates a proactive approach in monitoring business communications, reducing the number of firms struggling to oversee all communication channels from 54% to 24%.

Global Relay’s Chief Strategy Officer, Alex Viall, emphasized the urgency in adapting to the evolving landscape of business communications. “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 touches on the broader adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, which have surged from 36% in 2023 to 53% in 2024. This shift comes as financial institutions seek to balance the benefits and risks of personal device usage at work, with 45% clarifying their BYOD policies in response to ongoing regulatory enforcement.

In terms of future compliance technologies, the report indicates a cautious but growing interest in integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into compliance processes. Although 42% of global firms are considering AI adoption within the next year, North American firms show notable hesitance, with 65% indicating no plans to implement AI soon.

This study not only reflects the dynamic nature of regulatory requirements and compliance strategies but also serves as a critical gauge for the industry’s responsiveness to regulatory actions and fines.

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