Here’s what you need to know to pick an archiving platform that’s the right fit for your firm:
1. Archiving Options
First and foremost, you need to ensure that any archiving platform you’re considering archives everything you need it to. While this may sound like an obvious requirement, even platforms made specifically for advisors may not include all necessary archiving. For example, some platforms may only archive emails. If the only way you communicate with clients is through email this isn’t a problem, but if you have a website or use social media, as most advisors do, only archiving emails will not meet your books and records requirements.
If you use social media and wish to archive both emails and social media, you have two options. You could have one archiving platform for emails and one, such as Archive Social, exclusively for social media. Your other option is finding a platform that archives both. If you prefer to have two separate archiving solutions, there’s nothing wrong with that from a compliance perspective, though two platforms may require more resources, in the form of both time and money, as opposed to one platform that does it all.
2. Proactive vs Reactive
Another factor to consider is how the platforms handle any potential compliance concerns. In this respect, platforms fall into one of two categories. The first type flags emails that contain certain keywords for compliance review. The second type uses a more proactive approach and actually stops potentially non-compliant emails from being sent. The latter option helps stop compliance concerns before they start, while the former requires the compliance team to reactively address the concern.
A proactive approach is obviously ideal, but few platforms currently offer this service. One of the few providers to do so is Presults.
Presults has a built-in compliance lexicon, which is constantly updated to ensure compliance with ever changing regulations. When a keyword is triggered in an email, the email is stopped from going out. This feature proves especially beneficial in protecting client’s personal information, since once an email with this information is sent out, a compliance review after the fact can only result in education to avoid a future issue.
3. Review Process
What your current communication review process looks like and the compliance resources you have at your disposal will also play a role in choosing the right archiving platform. Part of an advisor’s oversight responsibilities include reviewing communication with clients. In other words, if you’re archiving client communication but not doing anything with it, you’re not fully in compliance.
The problem is that email and social media review is time-consuming. For smaller firms with only one or two employees, each employee may wear many hats and struggle to find the time to get to compliance tasks such as email review. On the other hand, larger firms with one or more employees dedicated to compliance, may find their compliance staff have their plates full with other compliance tasks, and therefore also struggle to make time for the time-consuming review process.
If you’re looking for a more efficient system that saves time spent on compliance, AI-powered tools may be able to help by catching compliance concerns in real time.
4. Price and Flexibility
As with any purchase, price will likely factor into your decision. Most archiving platforms have monthly fees, typically based on the number of end users. The charge for end users may be a set rate per person, or for a range of users. For example, the price to archive three to five accounts may be the same but jump in price once the sixth account is added.
Archiving platforms may also charge additional fees. These include fees for storage, import or export fees, and set up fees. It’s worth looking out especially for export fees. These are fees you must pay if you choose to leave that provider and export your data. Since these fees are often per user, they can quickly add up. If you plan to stay with that provider forever, export fees won’t be a problem, but if you ever wish to leave for any reason, you may find yourself having to choose between paying a high fee or dealing with a platform that doesn’t work for you.
Beyond fees and monthly price, you’ll also want to consider the level of flexibility of any contract. With some platforms you’re locked in for a certain period of time, while other platforms, such as Presults, offer month-to-month contracts.
5. Customer Support
In a perfect world, customer support wouldn’t be necessary, but anyone who has ever worked with a computer, let alone a tech platform, knows how unlikely this is to be the case. Therefore, you’ll also want to look into what kind of customer support is offered by the provider.
Specific questions to ask a provider include:
• What does your onboarding support look like?
• What training do you offer to new customers?
• If I have questions, will I have the ability to speak directly to a person?
• Are questions on your website answered by a robot or a person?
• What methods of communication do you offer for customer support? Phone? Chat? Email?
Many of the larger and more well-known platforms are notorious for poor customer support. Frustratingly, these also tend to be the same platforms with contracts that lock you in for long periods of time and/or charge export fees that make it hard to leave.
Email archiving may not be the highest priority on your to-do list but going with the first provider you find may lead to headaches, frustration, and wasted resources down the line. Now that you know what to look for and what options exist, consider what’s best for your advisory firm. Spending a little extra time to ensure an archiving platform truly meets your needs can make your life considerably easier down the road.