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Quick Digital Transformation Has Confused 81% Of Financial Institutions Finds Theta Lake

With two years worth of digital transformation taking place in two months, according to Microsoft‘s CEO Satya Nadella, many organisations were unprepared for how much change would happen over a short period of time. A new normal of collaboration tool usage that incorporates complex multimedia features and functionality has been established, but how have individual companies responded to this?

Building on industry benchmarking that started in 2018, Theta Lake’s latest annual research surveyed 100 financial industry technology leaders in the second quarter of 2021, to obtain insight into how collaboration tools are being used and the security and compliance issues that firms are most concerned about. From usage to restrictions to regulations, the benchmark report sheds light on the risks and challenges that financial firms face and where they may stack up in comparison to their peers.

Over the last 18 months, the adoption and usage of modern communications and video tools like Microsoft Teams, WebEx by Cisco, and Zoom have accelerated at a record speed. The rapid uptick in collaboration tool adoption and usage in line with a growing dependence on collaboration technologies has created hidden risks for businesses and a broader need to ensure compliance with regulations.

Companies across every industry have grappled with how to deploy collaboration and video technology platforms in practice. For those in financial services, the speed of the rollout to keep businesses functioning, coupled with a reliance on existing technology such as email archives to capture non-email communications, brings inherent challenges. Companies must get serious about confronting compliance and security issues now if they want to get and stay ahead of the regulatory and data risks they face while benefiting from the rich productive features of the collaboration tools they’ve invested in.

Annual Benchmark Survey Report: The Security and Compliance Risks of Collaboration Tools in Financial Services

The report offers practical insight for financial services organisations to either begin or continue their compliance journey. This industry, in particular, has a long road ahead as compliance and security obligations further necessitate, and complicate, the oversight and controls needed for modern communications. With no clear consensus of where risks are most likely to occur, this report provides a snapshot to help guide organisations to both focus their risk management and maximise collaboration tool usage through robust security and compliance controls.

Some key takeaways from the report are:

  1. Collaboration tools remain integral to workplaces, wherever employees are conducting business
    • Most companies (91%) are using two to six collaboration tools – such as Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, Webex, Zoom, and Slack – resulting in a tremendous amount of content to manage and supervise. We can expect to see this number remain steady, even with a slow return to the office. It’s clear that the pandemic was the tipping point, and collaboration tools are here to stay.
  2. Video use is fastest growing, but chat is making waves as well
    • Compared to February 2020, video usage has increased more than 70% and chat is up 50%. Respondents are using video, screenshare and whiteboards more than chat, despite these features being more heavily controlled. Many organisations are allowing chat but restricting the use of video and whiteboarding due to perceived risks.
  3. Regulatory requirements continue to be a minefield
    • With differing rules for retention and supervision across regulators and the need to implement robust controls in a work from anywhere environment it’s no surprise that 81% indicated they are already struggling with understanding the regulatory requirements for digital transformation. And the surge of collaboration tool usage just adds to these complexities. Add to that the significant pace of regulatory change impacting operations around the globe, this puts companies in a precarious position that will make it that easy to fall out of compliance.
  4. Companies are giving up functionality due to risks
    • Despite a 70% increase in the usage of video tools, 82% of respondents are not leveraging all the capabilities of their video platforms. Companies are forced to choose between utilising collaboration tools to their fullest and protecting their internal assets, while maintaining compliance. It doesn’t have to be this way.
  5. Conduct monitoring will increase
    • Concerns around misconduct are high on the agendas of regulators and boards alike. According to Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence, two out of three firms are expecting to spend more time and resources in the next 12 months monitoring conduct. Manually monitoring audio and written archives is time consuming and costly for companies – if they are not utilising a robust, next-gen solution to anticipate and correct problem areas.


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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