Email Review Can Reduce Risk

Reviewing email messages can yield valuable information and may significantly reduce a company's exposure to risk

LOS ANGELES -- According to a recent survey on electronic message surveillance activities, reviewing email messages can yield valuable information and may significantly reduce a company’s exposure to risk. Of the 93 per cent of companies that have formal electronic communications retention and review policies, 63 per cent said that email surveillance has improved their visibility into the risk the organization is exposed to as a result of employee communications.

The increase in visibility has resulted in 26 per cent of organizations terminating an employee as a result of information yielded through email surveillance. The survey, conducted by Fortiva, a provider of secure, managed email archiving, and Jeffrey Plotkin, a securities enforcement specialist and partner with the law firm Pitney Hardin LLP, also found that as a result of email surveillance, 12 per cent of the companies uncovered customer complaints that were not previously escalated or disclosed. Fourteen per cent also said copies of employee correspondence were forwarded to a regulatory body or law enforcement agency.

According to the survey, companies are spending a median of 12 hours per week for every 100 employees to review 10 per cent of their electronic messages. This time investment is allowing companies to meet regulatory responsibilities and may help prevent lawsuits, harassment claims and exposure of confidential information. According to the results, while 83 per cent of organizations do not prohibit users from sending or receiving personal email, 79 per cent of businesses feel that it is deterring employees from engaging in correspondence that violates corporate policies and regulations.

“Although rules like NASD 3010 and NYSE 342 mandate supervisory review of electronic correspondence of registered representatives with the public, there really are no clear guidelines concerning how this review should be conducted,” said Jeffrey Plotkin, Partner, Pitney Hardin LLP in New York City. “Through this survey we hoped to shed some light on what the securities industry is currently doing to meet NASD and NYSE supervision requirements, thus enabling organizations to compare their electronic messaging surveillance activities to industry benchmarks. In the process, we learned that despite a lack of guidance, companies have been very proactive in making sure they meet regulatory requirements. The results also confirmed that supervision is giving organizations valuable visibility into their employees’ actions.”

Fortiva Inc.