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Targeting Market Abuse in Electronic Communications

Supervision of electronic communications is a key component of demonstrating compliance, alongside highlighting market abuse, bad decisions or just a general lack of understanding. But it’s also become a bug bear for many firms who are drowning in reviews, potentially missing the one rogue trade that could have wide-reaching consequences.

There are two key reasons for this review overload – the explosion in content, from social media to internal communications, and a lack of sophistication in the way searches are set-up, inadvertently adding to the review load, not reducing it.

The amount of information organisations need to review is doubling every eighteen months. Email is no longer the main method of communication, a wide variety of services and apps are used every day from Skype for Business, LinkedIn, and Twitter to Bloomberg, Reuters, and internal collaboration tools. This is further compounded by the myriad of communication channels that crop up with alarming speed, all of which need to be captured or blocked.

Should traders be able to access everything? Probably not. This is where policies that decide who can access what come into play. But the technology used to enforce them is often inadequate. Regulations apply to content not channels, however the systems that many organisations are using were built specifically for one channel, email. These systems, designed in a different era, are straining under the weight of increasing communications data.

While they might be able convert tweets to email to ensure compliance, this just increases the complexity of the entire system from capture to archive and extends the time it takes to review. In today’s data-centric environment, a compliance system needs massive scalability to enable large volumes of messages from disparate channels to be searched quickly.

In addition, searches for documents to potentially review are not set up making full use of the tools available such as using Boolean constructs to refine search terms or a simple check of the value of the keywords used. In order to overcome this, organisations need to tackle the issue in a smarter way, refining their parameters to drive down volumes and false positives.

One way to do this is to invite people that understand the business to be involved in the configuration set-up to ensure the searches go beyond standard keywords. They understand the language used on a particular desk and the acronyms that need to be included in the search terms which might suggest a conversation has been moved to an unauthorised channel. At the same time, make the most of a reviewer’s experience by having them work on specific queues. This will enable someone with the right skill set to handle reviews faster.

Analytic tools are increasingly being used to generate more intelligence around regulation issues. They can highlight activities such as which individuals are connecting to discuss specific topics over which channels. This type of visualisation can give greater insight into policy violations that might not have shown up previously.

Although changes on both sides of the Atlantic have put the compliance manger in the firing line, by enabling your frontline reviewer to do their job more efficiently and effectively, they’ll help you dodge that compliance bullet.


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