With the spread of COVID-19 and stay-at-home mandates, business continuity plans and their limits are being tested for advisors nationwide. Now more than ever, it is critical to consider proper systems that accommodate this extended state of emergency.
Here are four key areas that should be addressed within your business continuity plan:
1. Communication – Be proactive in keeping your clients aware of your business availability and any changes to normal hours or operations. Let them know how you are available to support their needs, whether through video conferencing or the best ways to reach your team for their immediate needs. If physical mail will not be accessible to your team, provide alternative methods for securing sending information, such as mailing checks directly to applicable custodians.
2. Regulatory Considerations – With staff working from home for an extended period, what are you doing from a supervision and archiving standpoint? Consider all critical processes that may need to take place remotely, from Form ADV renewal filings and the new Form CRS, to billing, portfolio rebalancing and client meetings. Your firm will need a solution to ensure that employees are continuing to complete necessary compliance tasks as well as proper archiving of client communications. From cell phone calls to texting, there may be many new methods of communication to consider how you will capture for review and archiving.
3. Technology – At the core of enabling remote work, there are a number of technology solutions to consider to enable your team to continue with essential business activity, including:
- Video conferencing
- Internal communications
- Compliance software for supervision
- Password management
- Phone systems
4. Cyber Security – As we have shared in past newsletter issues, cyber security has been an increasing focus during compliance exams in recent years—a trend we can only anticipate to increase exponentially with today’s remote workforces. Here are a few key reminders to share with your staff that all standard compliance procedures are still in effect while working from home:
- Work on secure (non-public) wifi connections.
- Use proper business email domains for all business communications.
- Avoid printing confidential materials, and follow proper measures for secure discarding when necessary.
- Do not store any sensitive information on non-company devices without the proper security protections.
- Some remote tech platforms are not appropriate for confidential material, such as non-secure video conferencing to discuss detailed client data and accounts.
- Be cautious of targeted email phishing or fraudulent wire requests that may come through without company firewall protection.
As your team learns to adapt and navigate this new virtual reality, take action and document any updates to your policies and procedures necessary to fulfill these demands. For additional ideas or recommendations in any of these areas, feel free to reach out to us at Beacon HQ to let us know how we can be of help.
Sources: RIA in a Box, ThinkAdvisor