Administrative assistants play an essential role in ensuring their financial services firm’s communications are secure. Their responsibilities mean they frequently deal with vast amounts of sensitive information, both about their firm and its clients. Implementing smart security strategies is essential to the success of the organization.
Because email is a prominent channel for team collaboration, sending confidential information to the correct parties, and receiving private information from clients, strong email management strategies are just as crucial to safeguarding customer privacy as overt security measures.
So, let’s delve into key practices for day-to-day secure communication and email organization, both of which help keep operations safely running.
In the financial services industry, admin assistants are regularly in charge of protecting social security numbers, income details, tax identification numbers, bank account numbers, investment portfolios, legal documents, audit documentation, and other personal identification information.
This information is typically sent over email correspondence or collected on conference calls and then saved to the firm’s online cloud storage program, so the threat of internet hackers attempting to steal it is heightened. That’s why ensuring your day-to-day customer communication management processes are secured with encryption software.
Encryption, which is the process of scrambling information so it’s unreadable to anyone other than the designated party, is widely used by firms to ensure personal information isn’t stolen online.
Depending on the firm’s regulations around sensitive information and their encryption tool of choice, admin assistants can safeguard information by:
Using email encryption software to safely receive and send confidential information
Securing the firm’s cloud storage with multi-factor authentication or encryption
Restricting access to sensitive data through folder access controls or encryption
Utilizing secure video conferencing tools with end-to-end encryption
Implementing secure file transfer methods, such as Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), or Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)
Fortunately, there are lots of encryption software options and all financial firms use them, just be sure to work with your organization's compliance officer or resource to ensure that encryption and workflows meet industry standards.
Of course, these strategies only work if you protect the information from the correct people, which leads us to email organization.
When you’re the communication liaison between multiple clients and several partners, your inbox can quickly become a flooded mess of emails. But as a gatekeeper to sensitive information, organizing your emails is a necessary step to keeping confidential documents safe.
An easy-to-use inbox only has a few unread messages in the main folder at any given time. And that means less scrolling, fewer missed emails, and a smaller chance of email mix-ups.
Here are just four ways to clean up your inbox:
1. Categorize and label emails based on urgency. Consider using labels like Urgent, Action Required, Invoices, Budget [year], Training, and Expenses [year], so you can easily identify and prioritize emails.
2. Use subfolders for prioritizing. If you work with several partners, it may make sense to create a folder for each partner, and then subfolders for each year, client, and initiative. (Or the other way around!)
3. Regularly clean up your inbox. Delete or archive emails you no longer need to help minimize a potential data breach. By limiting the sensitive information in your inbox, you can reduce a cybercriminal’s access to significant amounts of confidential information.
4. Automate when you can. Many platforms allow you to set up automatic archiving. Additionally, you can also automate sorting emails into folders based on the sender, subject line, and other variables.
These tips can also help cut down on the time you spend searching through your inbox for a certain email, and that means you’ll have more time to focus on other operationally important responsibilities.
With lengthy to-do lists that include handling confidential information with care, making sure everything in the office is running smoothly isn’t only important for your sanity, it’s also important for safeguarding sensitive information. After all, having efficient communication management and collaboration processes in place keeps your financial firm performing at its best.
Consider these strategies:
Use project management tools, like Asana or Monday.com, for tracking initiatives that have many steps, like collecting documents for tax preparation.
Set up regular check-in meetings and always include a detailed agenda and timely follow-ups on action items.
Implement automated workflows for routine tasks, like generating financial reports.
Create guides that clearly outline safe information management.
The goal is to optimize and eliminate lengthy manual processes. Your in-house compliance resource is an excellent person to consult with when you’re ready to update processes!
In the ever-evolving financial industry, administrative assistants need to stay updated on new security protocols and strategic communications tools through close collaboration with compliance officers and continued education.
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