FCA guidelines tightened for the financial sector regarding compliance when working away from the office

FCA guidelines were tightened in a Speech delivered by Julia Hoggett, Director, Market Oversight, at the City Financial Global event on Oct 12.

A key topic covered in the speech was surveillance and new ways of working. In March the FCA had given some leeway for companies struggling to meet the same standards of compliance away from the office.

“Firms should continue to record calls, but we accept that some scenarios may emerge where this is not possible. Firms should make us aware if they are unable to meet these requirements. We expect firms to consider what steps they could take to mitigate outstanding risks if they are unable to comply with their obligations to record voice communications. This could include enhanced monitoring, or retrospective review once the situation has been resolved.” (March 2020)

Now it has become apparent that home working is likely to continue for some time ahead and that a return to the office may be some way off, the FCA has taken a stronger stance.

“While scenarios emerged early in the pandemic where the usual levels of recording and surveillance were not possible, our experience suggests firms have now overcome these challenges. Our expectation is that going forward, office and working from home arrangements should be equivalent” (October 2020)

There is now no leniency for financial sector firms not complying with FCA guidelines for call recording expectations and any firms that are not meeting the office standards at home face increased risk.

“The regulatory obligations have not changed, the how may be changing, but the what remains the same…

Staff should be in no doubt about the standards expected of them. And they should be in no doubt that these standards apply whether they are in the regular office, a disaster recovery site or at a makeshift workstation at home.” (October 2020)

How can you remain compliant under the current conditions?

To FCA guidelines, designing the right communications infrastructure and embracing IP telephony properly will help make compliance non-location-dependent.

Qubic is helping clients meet the challenge

First,  Qubic builds Cloud voice platforms in its secure Cloud Nexus that are distributed over multiple UK datacenters to ensure continuity of service. Next, a fully compliant, high-availability voice recording system is layered across the entire platform with full back-up to a secure location. This platform means that any office-based telephony is recorded.

Teleworker handsets allow people working from home to integrate securely over a VPN to the platform to work just as if they were in the office, with all voice calls going through the voice platform and being recorded.

The next layer of compliance is the integration of Microsoft Teams telephony. This allows the use of Microsoft Teams as a softphone on any device; PC, laptop, tablet or phone with all Teams voice calls being routed through the platform and recorded.

Finally, for financial traders, Qubic can provide the Eclipse ‘trading anywhere’ platform. The system can be used with an expandable, fully-featured turret as well as with a soft turret. All voice traffic is routed through voice platform and is recorded.

Eclipse helps traders re-create the office environment at home with all of their familiar, essential tools on-hand so they can work efficiently and effectively. They don’t have to rely on clunky workarounds that cost time and can lead to mistakes when they’re trying to work orders, manage flows, oversee risk and serve clients.