- October 19, 2020
- Posted by: Pat Riot
- Categories: CPA, CyberSecurity, Finance, Private Wealth, RIA
When we plan our days, we intuitively include commute times in our schedule. “It takes X minutes to get to work, so I have to leave at X time.” How much more productive would you be if your commute only took a couple of seconds? Prior to the pandemic, “going to the office” was a societal norm. Surveys show that only about 15% of the workforce was remote. In 2016, The Bureau of Labor and Statistics released a report that showed 38% of employees in financial operations, management, or business preformed at least some of their work from home. That number is now at 77%. Furthermore, a Gartner survey found that 74% of Chief Financial Officers intend to shift toward permanent remote work for some employees once the pandemic is resolved. Meeting in person with coworkers, clients, or prospects is now a safety concern. So naturally, to compensate, we went digital. Remote work can bring many beneficial impacts, but what happens to the integrity of our customers data as a result of working from home?
Whether your company culture embraces the shift, or it resists the shift toward remote work, some facts cannot be ignored. First and foremost, the data itself. Many RIA’s and Private Wealth Advisors tend to be under the assumption that their data is secure if they are using platforms like Raymond James, TD Ameritrade, JP Morgan, etc. And they would be correct – to an extent. The platforms themselves are secure, however, everything outside of it is completely up for grabs if not secured properly. Sensitive data is extremely vulnerable if your employee is accessing it through unsafe Wi-Fi networks. This may seem like common sense, but it isn’t. And it can be further perpetuated by using personal devices for work. IBM released a security report stating that half of the respondents who are now working from home, are doing so with no new policies or procedures to help guide them. We may all know subconsciously how important information security is and none of us want a cyber incident to occur. But people feel protected in their homes, they feel safe with their devices, and those feelings can lead to complacency. 90% of security breaches are caused by human error, not by a sophisticated attack. As such, regular awareness and cyber training are imperative to a secure remote work environment.
Since you, as a Private Wealth Advisor or RIA, are responsible for securing your customers data no matter where they are at, it only makes sense that your devices should be secure no matter where you are at. Steel Patriot Partners has gone to great lengths to ensure that your security transformation is as painless and as straightforward as possible. We formalize policies and procedures making it easy for your organization to institutionalize information security. For those that don’t know where to begin, we have created a maturity model that grades your current cyber maturity, as well as, acting like a guide to show you what your next step is. In as little as 8 weeks you could increase your security posture by as much as 80%. Working from anywhere doesn’t have to be a concern when you leverage the depth, knowledge, and professionalism of Steel Patriot Partners.
When the pandemic hit back in March, many RIA’s and Private Wealth Advisors had some serious déjà vu back to the 2001 time period (the first digital shift.) Financial advising has always been a people business. One that allows you to meet with clients, look them in the eye, determine their fears, show empathy, give guidance, and ultimately discover a person’s psychology. Now we are alienated from our clients and co-workers. When the markets tanked, so too did the asset-based revenue margins. This exponentially increased the amount of stress on businesses because those who were looking to sell, now suddenly found themselves valued much less on paper than they were a year prior. For those looking to retire, their admiration and respect for their clients forced them to carry on because there is no way they would leave them at a time like this. The good thing is that the RIA/PWA business model is robust enough and our free market economy is resilient enough to get through sudden drastic market fluctuations (‘29-’33, ‘00-’02, ‘07-’09 & 2020). This time, the pandemic pointed out major deficiencies regarding the future of financial advising.
The firms that were best able to withstand difficult periods reinvested in their businesses – especially technology. The firms that did not reinvest were simply looking to sustain, not to grow, in the time of crisis. The common trend among decades is that more profit taking often leads to stagnation. Diversifying revenue bases and reinvesting in the business are the only way to prevent cataclysms during crises. Self-reflection can be difficult in any context because the intrapersonal nature may find some skeletons you didn’t want to see.
What business margins do you need to have to avoid calamity? How do you find new clients remotely? Were you reinvesting in your firm or savoring a high-margin lifestyle practice? Did you already have the technology ready to go to work from home, interacting with both your clients and staff through either Zoom or Microsoft Teams? Do you have new policies and procedures to reflect the new environment your employees find themselves in? Are you ready for your next audit? Are you leveraging industry best practices to safeguard information? Source: Financial Advisor Magazine & Steel Patriot Partners
A client of yours could be anywhere in the country, or even the world and you are responsible for their data. Many RIA’s and Private Wealth Advisors tend to be under the assumption that their data is secure if they are using platforms like Raymond James, FiServ, FIS, Jack Henry Banking, etc. And they would be correct – to an extent. The platforms themselves are secure, however, everything outside of it is completely up for grabs if it is not secured properly. Working remotely certainly has its advantages, but it also has its fair number of challenges and vulnerabilities as well. 90% of security breaches are caused by human error, not by a sophisticated attack. Misconfiguration, poor cyber hygiene, and lackadaisical security practices are some of the easiest to fix yet they remain as some of the most persistent.
Finance’s new workplace is becoming remote and since you as an Advisor are responsible for securing your customers data no matter where they are at, it only makes sense that your devices should be secure no matter where you are at. Steel Patriot Partners wants to reassure you that your information and data are secure after we guide you through the necessary steps of becoming cyber mature. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that your security transformation is as painless and as straightforward as possible. We formalize policies and procedures making it easy for your business to institutionalize information security. For those that don’t know where to begin, we have created a maturity model that grades your current cybermaturity, as well as, acting like a guide to show you what your next step is in the Maturity Model. In as little as 8 weeks you could increase your security posture by as much as 80%. Working from anywhere doesn’t have to be a concern when you leverage the depth, knowledge, and professionalism of Steel Patriot Partners.
If remote work has impacted your business or you want to be secure for the future, simply give us a follow on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), send us an email, give us a call at 703-297-4405 or contact us directly! Regardless of the method you choose, we look forward to hearing from you and – as always, we appreciate your time for reading this content! Stay blessed and stay secure!