Now more than ever financial services companies are using dynamic content to offer personalised online experiences as part of their marketing. But what of the compliance challenges this poses?
The pressure is on for financial services firms to meaningfully engage with customers via online channels. This means cutting through the noise and providing customers with the right content at the right time.
Covid-19 has accelerated this trend and according to Twilio, 95% of UK businesses are seeking new ways of using digital channels to communicate with customers as a direct result of the pandemic.
Consumer distrust in advertising is at an all-time low as people rethink with whom they share their most coveted, private information. This brings another layer of complexity to businesses’ marketing functions, forcing more sophisticated programs to be integrated in websites and apps.
Unfortunately the challenges don’t end there.
‘Personalisation will be the prime driver of marketing success within five years’ – McKinsey & Company
The compliance burden
A dynamic CMS relies heavily on the use of content such as personalised modules, CTAs, video clips and other uses of bespoke imagery or messaging. In such a heavily regulated industry as financial services, this all needs to be recorded and logged as part of a firm’s marketing activity.
Dynamic CMS providers give marketers the control and power they need, allowing them to deliver great web experiences and better nurture prospects and customers. Unfortunately, it’s easy to see how this can become a nightmare for compliance.
With content that changes dynamically, how can firms capture and retain records of website communications, monitor online content for updates and evidence what was communicated and when?
At the heart of FCA COBS is rule 4.2, that all communications from a regulated firm must be ‘clear, fair and not misleading‘. The regulator is becoming increasingly active on this front and in its 2020/21 business plan outlined how ‘delivering fair value in a digital age’ had become a top priority. This included two key recommendations:
Audit your existing controls and processes
How are you meeting the existing rules? And more importantly, can you evidence this?
Establish proactive controls, monitoring, and archiving
Ensure that you’re using technology and data appropriately while protecting customers.
This means, with firms having to increasingly evidence these points, record-keeping has become critical to compliance departments.
The risk of non-compliance is real and one that few businesses can afford to get wrong. For instance, a recent survey by Teleware found that 40% of firms were risking non-compliance with Article 16 of MiFID II. This segment relates directly to record-keeping and carries penalties of up to €5m or 10% of a business’s annual turnover (worryingly, whichever is higher!).
And remember, there is no such thing as half compliance. In the eyes of the regulator a firm will either be fulfilling their regulatory obligations or be in breach of them.
An opportunity for financial services?
This all sounds a bit daunting, but the challenge also represents an opportunity for financial services. Firms that provide effective personalisation for customers whilst improving digital compliance will fare better in the future. Why?
Firms will not only minimise the risk of non-compliance, but they will improve their reputation and brand perception by demonstrating how they protect investors. Brands that provide demonstrable utility and value whilst protecting customers interests will likely fare much better in the current climate than those whose purpose is unclear.
Creating records of dynamic content is easier said than done though. These records have to be immutable, scalable and legally-admissible. Regulators will also demand these records are ISO-compliant, created in a WORM format and stored in a safe location.
This is hard enough to do for static content let alone dynamic media that is either constantly changing or personalised for unique user experiences. It is easy to see how the burden for these firms’ compliance functions has become so heightened!
Thankfully, website archiving is the solution.
What is website archiving?
Website archiving is the process of using specialised software to crawl web-content (including all the digital assets these webpages contain) to create lasting digital records.
This is the only way to capture online records in a form that is legally-admissible, tamperproof and that allows to interact with the captured records at a later date (without compromising this content).
This last point is crucial and gives compliance teams the best evidence possible.
For instance, imagine a firm faced a complaint about dynamic content that had been posted on a company’s website several months ago. With a website archive, the compliance team could revisit the archive for the website on a specific date and use this as if it was still a live site. Tabs can be opened, menus scrolled through and the whole archive will allow all the navigational functionality a live user would expect.
Website archiving essentially allows compliance teams to go back in time and revisit information they would otherwise struggle to find. This includes the kind of dynamic content a static solution (such as a screenshot) would fail to capture.
An archiving solution for modern web estates
At MirrorWeb, our website archiving platform is used by many clients throughout the financial services industry.
All our software is created in-house and has modernised the way compliance departments manage and archive their digital history, allowing all archives to be easily logged and revisited whenever they are needed.
We operate our crawls on a one-to-one approach. This means each web crawl runs on its own server in AWS minimising the chance of data loss should a crawl server encounter difficulty. Modern websites are full of dynamic content – so we now use our own crawler Electrolyte to capture pixel-perfect records.
We surface all metadata and give clients access to advanced crawl reports, including full breakdowns allowing users to extract and dissect web data like never before.
Furthermore our in-house quality assurance team continually assess each archive to ensure nothing has been missed.
We help many of our clients create legally-admissible and fully accurate digital records of their dynamic content. For example, we recently supported a global asset manager with over 120 websites operating throughout 40 countries. It was crucial for them being able to create records of the huge volumes of data they published, which is why their compliance department turned to MirrorWeb.
The MirrorWeb platform was quickly integrated and is now a core part of this asset manager’s compliance function. The archives being created play a vital role for both quarterly compliance reviews and spontaneous and specific inquiries. The stats below represent what we’ve now captured for one of our biggest clients in asset management!