There are over 319.6 billion emails sent and received globally daily. Email has become the crux of how we communicate with both clients and colleagues. We can send important documents, accept offers, and have full conversations all through email. Below we will discuss the in and outs of email archiving for registered investment advisers (“RIAs”).
What is Email Archiving?
Simply put, email archiving is the process of capturing, storing, and properly maintaining records of your email communications and associated attachments on a long-term basis. This process keeps all content unchanged, helps to prevent data loss and serves as record documentation.
This process is distinct from email backup. Archiving takes the actual email and stores it in a new location outside of your email system for an extended period of time. You should have quick and easy access to specific emails that have been archived. Whereas, an email backup copies all the files, saves them in a new location for a limited period of time, and it is used to restore data in the case of a breach or compromise. Backups are typically used for large-scale data recovery.
Why is it Necessary for RIAs to Archive Emails?
All individuals at your registered investment adviser (“RIA”) firm that send and receive emails are held to the regulatory requirements related to archiving. Per SEC Rule 204-2, client-facing communications, including emails must be archived.
Among other items, Rule 204-2 states:
- All RIA firms must maintain and preserve their required books and records for no less than five years.
- Those records must be easily accessible.
In addition to ensuring that your firm is compliant with the books and records requirements for investment advisers, this process can be imperative to reducing performance issues with servers. Given that all email services have a limited amount of data storage capabilities, you may find yourself or your team deleting emails that you believe to not need now, but may be needed in the future.
Email archiving, if set up properly, can move data off of the server on an intermittent basis to assure that there is enough storage space, while maintaining records. Additionally, retrieving old emails should be an easy task with the right archiving solution.
Hackers can access many areas of old records and electronic communication files that are believed to be out of the inbox and safely stored. Deleting emails and filing away in a location out of your inbox are generally not secure methods. Email archiving solutions can help protect your data from security threats and hackers, preventing permanent loss of email and all attachments in case of a data breach or disaster.
Even without a cyber-attack or disaster, email archiving is a great way to keep your firm’s records up-to-date and organized. Since archiving maintains all data and attachments, your firm will have a record of all communications with a client as well as any important documents that may need to be accessed or reviewed at any time. Email archiving solutions give you the ability to tag and index all emails in an organized manner for easy retrieval and search as well.
Your email archiving solution is like an electronic filing cabinet, without all the hassle of folders and tabs to riffle through.
Manual systems require employees to spend time transferring emails into storage or deleting emails to prevent capacity limits from being reached. Many companies are also familiar with the downtime caused when employees need to involve IT for help with email storage or transfer issues. Automating the archiving process helps to enhance operational efficiencies by making archiving duties simple for your employees, so they can focus on building client relationships.
It is beneficial to your firm to select a system that is user-friendly and has a simple interface. This will help new users get connected to the system in an efficient manner and can simplify the process for the supervisor to access and complete email review duties.