The fast and furious spread of COVID-19 has hit the markets hard, and as advisory firms move their workforces remotely, they face two additional threats: hackers and lost productivity due to technology troubleshooting.
From a technology standpoint, working from home can be a smooth and seamless transition, but only when done right.
Although it’s hard to say exactly when, the coronavirus will eventually go away.
But what will not go away is working remotely. The remote work trend has only accelerated, “thanks” to COVID-19.
There is no better time than now to address these RIA technology risks and prepare for the future of work.
As a growing number of US states and countries, most recently India, require their residents to stay at home, RIA staff will be working from home.
At least in the office, secure Wifi, servers and networks are likely already in place.
And while most employees will have security (or some degree thereof) for their home Wifi networks, there is still a risk that some have unsecured networks.
Having a password protected network is an obvious first step, but there are a few more things employees should do to keep their home networks secure. Check out Norton’s recommendations for a fully secure home network.
An uninterrupted operation is essential, and for employees to work from home effectively, they should be able to access all systems available in the office.
Is the portfolio accounting software stored on a local device? Are there production computers or hot stand-by computers to keep track of?
Some advisories already have the IT infrastructure in place for a fully optimized remote working environment, and more power to them.
But for others that require staff physically on site, the risk is greater than ever. If in the event team members cannot leave their home, due to sickness or government mandate, what will happen?
For employees that must be in the office to manage the systems, make sure there is a clean working environment and social distancing policies are in effect, both in the working environment and when commuting to work.
In the meantime, now might be a good time to consider switching to more cloud-based options to replace locally stored systems and legacy technology. While a global viral outbreak ideally should not be the driving force for such a change, the necessity to adapt is greater than ever.
With reliance on locally stored systems comes the need to remotely connect to desktops, but this too comes with challenges.
What happens if the power shuts off in the building, or a system upgrade and subsequent automatic restart of the computer cuts off the connection? Tolerating slow connections and delayed mouse clicks and keyboard strokes when successfully connected doesn’t sound so bad at that point.
Nonetheless, someone may have to risk going out to the office just to reboot a computer. Think of how much time is being wasted. (According to Robert Half Technology, employees lose more than two works weeks each year because of IT-related issues.)
There may be other reasons for remote desktop connection issues (without having to go on-site), and here are a few solutions to deal with those connection issues for those connecting to Windows devices.
And just as it may be difficult to move away from locally stored systems in the short-term, it might be worth looking at web-based/cloud-based solutions to minimize that risk.
Until then, we recommend a few other measures:
At Empaxis, we are responding to the threat of COVID-19 seriously, and we have taken measures to eliminate these kinds of risks so that we can deliver a normal operation for investment advisories as planned. Read more about measures Empaxis is taking in response to the coronavirus.
With so much market volatility, advisory firms are dealing with enough pressure as it is, further exacerbated by tech troubles in the shift to remote work.
By making sure home Wifi and network connections are secure and eliminating the threats associated with remote access to locally stored devices, registered investment advisors can cover some of the IT basics in this time of transition. The changes made now will pay off, including long after the coronavirus has been defeated.
The fallout from COVID-19 is putting enough of strains on business at large, but at a minimum, RIA technology risks can be eliminated.