When COVID hit, survival mode kicked in – for everyone.
Offices vacated and workers retreated to their homes or other “safe” locations. It was a highly disruptive experience to our professional and personal lives, but there was no choice other than to react immediately to the situation that was unexpectedly thrown our way.
As we witnessed, no industry was immune from the pandemic. Workers across all sectors – including financial – packed up their offices and had to figure out on the spot how to continue business operations and ensure transactions still occurred in a timely way. But the world continued to turn. Clients did not take a break from needing assistance (and in many cases clients needed their financial advisors more than ever).
The pandemic also forced everyone and every entity to rethink how we work and the actions we take to get the job done. From financial organizations of every size to the regulators who oversee the industry, there has been a paradigm shift.
Experts have stated that the pandemic truly accelerated some of the trends that were already underway in the financial services industry, including:
- Changed (and continually evolving) consumer expectations. Clients expect information and updates faster than ever, and transactions to occur instantaneously.
- The heightened use of remote devices. Whether a personal-use computer, a cell phone, or a tablet – these are the devices that financial professionals are using (whether we like it or not).
- Remote management and oversight. With so many professionals working away from the office, and with that continuation of remote work expected to continue into the foreseeable future with hybrid work arrangements on the rise (read our blog on this topic here), executives and management teams must change their management style to match our new work environment.
And what do we see as the common thread with these trends? With the need to do work anytime, anywhere, on any device, there can be a massively increased risk of breaches, hacking, and related cybersecurity fallout.
An issue is that many financial firms, of all shapes and sizes, do not have the in-house expertise to fully understand cybersecurity risks and what to do about them. Clearly there are needs for additional security controls, and for new technology to enable workers to do what they need to do, wherever they happen to be.
The question that firms should be asking is, “What can my team do so these transactions and conversations happen in a way that keeps sensitive data safe and secure.” (And sadly, there are many firms not even asking these questions. But that is another conversation altogether.)
Firms avoiding difficult cybersecurity strategy conversations and what they can do to tighten their ship will face stormy weather and dangerous conditions ahead.
Regulators, since the start of the pandemic, have been giving what we might call a “pass” to financial firms in the short term due to the extenuating circumstances that started in March of 2020.
But now, those regulators are starting to become a more prominent part of the conversation. They are letting companies in the financial space know that “passes” will be a distant memory. They are nudging firms in the direction of technologies, products, and services that help prevent cybercrime and keep data safe and secure. Financial firms will be held accountable and responsible for doing everything they can to protect the valuable assets to which they have access.
So what actions should a firm take now?
It starts with a financial firm’s management team understanding the importance of a cybersecurity strategy. This team often includes some mix of the company’s compliance officer, CIO, CTO, and technology team (whether in-house or outsourced). Threats must be identified. The work habits of the team must be examined. All vulnerabilities must be spotted – so that the steps to the prevention of breaches and issues become clearer.
Financial firms must then look at what can be done to add the necessary security to the systems a company uses. What is needed is a new model that protects against the “bad guys” and their ever-evolving techniques while simultaneously not handcuffing employees and their productivity. With this in mind, it is fair to say that for most firms, building cybersecurity solutions in-house is likely not the answer.
So what is the solution?
Venn’s Zero Trust Platform is a critical tool for many financial firms who want to ensure their workforce can securely use any device, anywhere, with a favorable user experience that leads to productivity.
Venn combines a cloud solution with a local device experience that wraps data and sensitive information in a secure perimeter. Workplace ensures that applications with privileged data are only accessible through certain gates – gates that cannot be bypassed by clever users.
Venn is, truth be told, the type of solution that regulators want to see financial firms utilize.
We would love to talk to you more about the need for productivity, the need for the highest degree of security, and our solution. Learn more here.