Jeff Plutte is a partner experience manager at Advicent, the financial planning technology provider of choice for nearly 100,000 financial professionals.
For financial advisors, dealing with data security is an important facet of the job. Every day, advisors handle their clients’ extremely important and sensitive financial information and need to be sure they are doing everything they can to protect it. With data security breaches appearing in headlines in recent years, we are now in an era where consumers fully expect that their data is going to be properly protected and that there are regulations in place to ensure this. So, what does this mean for financial advisors moving forward? Let’s take a look.
Security is important to consumers
The consumer technology industry continues to grow at a rapid pace and along with it are the number of people trying to gain access to consumers’ personal data. Because of this, consumers are placing higher importance on data security. In a recent survey from IBM conducted by The Harris Poll, it was found that 78 percent of U.S. respondents say a company’s ability to keep their data private is “extremely important.” Furthermore, 75 percent of global respondents say they would not buy a product from a company – no matter how great that product is – if they do not trust that company to protect their data.
These numbers show just how crucial security has become to consumers. They are also seeing articles come out frequently reminding them of the importance of data security. For instance, the first line of this CNBC article makes it clear: “Here’s another line item for your ‘things to discuss with my financial advisor’ checklist: cybersecurity.”
If firms want to compete in the market and gain the trust of prospects, they need to emphasize data security at their firm and what is being done to protect consumers’ data.
Steps to take at your firm
Though the importance of data security is clear, it can be tough for advisors to decide where to start. Here are some simple positive steps to take in your office:
Sharing data with your clients
Whether it be onboarding a new prospect or revising a current client’s plan, advisors are constantly sharing important information back and forth with their clients. Advisors need to be sure that this is done in the most safe and secure manner possible. An easy way to start putting this into practice is by encrypting or password protecting emails with sensitive information.
Secure your office technology
Another important step is to make sure your home office technology is secure. For your office internet, be sure to password protect your Wi-Fi network or rely solely on a wired ethernet connection. Also, always remember to secure any physical documents containing sensitive information in a locked filing cabinet, and make sure you lock your computer any time you step away from your desk.
Look out for phishing attacks
Lastly, always be on the look out for phishing attacks. Avoid clicking on any links that look suspicious or are from unknown senders. Recently phishers have gotten clever and have started “spoofing” email addresses so that an email may appear to come from a reputable tech company with which you might do business, potential clients, or even someone at your firm. If you have any suspicion that an email may not be legitimate, be sure to double check with the sender before clicking on any links within. Another step is to implement an email protection service. While not 100 percent perfect, services like these are often money well spent and provide significant peace of mind for you and others at the firm.
Steps taken with NaviPlan®
We at Advicent recognize the critical need for data security and it is among our highest priorities in NaviPlan. Client data is your most important asset and we take numerous steps to make sure it stays protected. We understand the importance of trust between advisors and their clients and we place a high priority on making sure your clients’ data is secure. Our tools are compliant with the internationally recognized standard of excellence for information security, the ISO/IEC 27001 Code of Practice for Information Security Management Systems. This certification verifies that Advicent has implemented a solid framework for initiating, implementing, maintaining and managing information security within your organization. If you work with our tools, you can be rest assured that your client data is very well protected.
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