Google Drive is a Cloud-based file-sharing service that gives you the ability to share files in real time, which is a huge advantage for anyone operating a business. It also gives you and your clients instant access to ongoing projects so everyone is up-to-date and completely aware of where you are in a project. Even though you may be on opposite sides of the world, you are always able to share files on Google Drive and have them ready to look at when your client is ready. All files are also saved in the Cloud and are protected by encryption. Only people who are allowed access can view the files that are vital to your clients and the success of your business. With Google Drive’s growing popularity, an important question to consider, especially if you handle financial records, is whether Google Drive is compliant with regulatory guidelines set forth by organizations like FINRA.
What Is FINRA?
- FINRA is an acronym for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. It was founded in 2007 as a result of a merge between the NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) and the department that handles regulations on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange). It was originally developed to protect individuals who were either considering an investment in securities or who were already involved in the investment arena.
- FINRA is responsible for making sure all brokers that are considering entering the securities market have all the proper licenses. Over time though, their duties have expanded to include protecting the rights of individuals to have their personal information remain private. This has become a huge are of interest for businesses who are converting to paperless files.
- FINRA is responsible for creating and enforcing guidelines that govern how private information is transmitted and stored. Compliance with FINRA guidelines is vital to your company’s survival and success. There are stiff penalties, fines, and even suspensions for non-compliance, and it is essential to find a way to ease and enhance compliance. Document management software is often the best solution that will help your company or firm stay compliant and protect your profits.
How to be FINRA Compliant
For those using Google Drive to maintain files in the Cloud, they are responsible for complying with all security guidelines and rules outlined by FINRA. This agency’s primary goal is to ensure the safety of the personal information that is present in the files you are utilizing to run your business.
These guidelines outline how client information is stored using Google Drive. Files need to be encrypted to ensure information cannot be hacked or intercepted. There also needs to be another layer of encryption to protect the information from employees of the business.
Although encryption is an excellent way of protecting private information, the keys to the encryption cannot be kept in the cloud as well. The control of the information must stay with the originator and kept out of the Cloud to make sure everything is kept private and compliant with FINRA.
While it is possible to maintain compliance with organizations like the FINRA and the SEC using Google Drive, it becomes evident this was not Google Drives original intent, and trying to maintain compliance becomes tedious.
Google is not set up to be automatically compliant. Businesses must determine if they are governed by SEC and FINRA policies individually and take steps to modify their Google Drive account from there. It is possible for businesses to start storing information on Google Drive in a way that is not in compliance with regulatory standards, and Google won’t catch it for you. Individuals and businesses must configure Google’s viewing and sharing features to make it confidential, so that only authorized individuals will have access to certain documents.
Trying to be compliant with FINIRA can become a full time job in itself: The FINRA rule book is hundreds of pages long with dozens of sections and sub-sections. Instead of trying to sift through those rules and make your system conform to them, there are options that were created from the ground up to be automatically compliant with FINRA regulations.
Compliance Made Easier with eFileCabinet
eFileCabinet is powerful software that can make compliance with FINRA much easier as the company transfers to paperless filing. eFileCabinet can help businesses increase their efficiency and security by going paperless, causing FINRA compliance to be much simpler. If you use eFileCabinet, you can be confident that you are in compliance with all FINRA regulations, even as they change, because it is all updated and patched as needed.
Reliable Customer Service Teams
eFileCabinet has an exceptional customer service department and will take help you with every step along your way to going paperless. We can help you develop a program that has guidelines for how long personal information should be kept and stored by you and when it should be securely disposed of. This can be taken care of easily with automated document retention.
Your customer service representative will also be there to assist you in the event of an audit by FINRA. Because of the organized and thorough audit trails that can be created, your audit will has the potential to be a breeze. These audit trails detail what happens to private information every step of the way and who made changes when. It begins when it is first received, then it is transmitted to the Cloud. There are markers every time it is looked at or edited. It is then stored for the time as outlined in the guidelines and then securely disposed of.
All of this is easily accessed by authorized users and transmitted to FINRA officials upon request. There are even additional security measures added so that only people in certain roles of the company have the right to view certain information. If the company insists on in-house storage of private information, eFileCabinet also has software that resides on your hard drive or private server. You still get all of the great advantages of organizing and securing your private information but don’t have the advantage of sharing unless you go paperless.
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