Accountants reject email monitoring

UK accounting firms are unlikely to use email monitoring systems to check
movement of market and client sensitive information in the short term. This is
despite a similar scheme being introduced by one of the world’s biggest
investment banks.

Deutsche Bank is set to unveil an email monitoring system to head off market
abuse concerns associated with email communication. Many UK accounting
organisations, however, have no current plans to watch over client-related
emails sent from staff.

PKF IT director Jim Greenfield said the firm did not attempt to monitor or
restrict emails in terms of client information, as it tried to ‘strike a
balance’ to allow communication with clients.

But he would not rule out the possibility that a similar type of system being
implemented by Deutsche Bank could be used by accounting firms in the future.

‘It’s like walking a tightrope,’ said Greenfield. ‘We have tight internal
controls and don’t want to restrict our staff, but where will we be in 18 months
An Ernst & Young spokesman said the firm was not intending to monitor
client-related emails.

Deloitte was more secretive about its email monitoring strategy. ‘We have a
comprehensive IT usage policy, the details of which are confidential,’ said a
spokeswoman. A PricewaterhouseCooper’s spokeswoman added the firm’s staff
undertook market abuse training and were aware that communications could be

Accountants’ IT network (IAAITC) chief executive Dave Reynolds said that
firms must better govern email communication.

‘It may seem to be another example of staff freedom being chopped, but better
management is essential for professional firms,’ said Reynolds.

‘One problem is that email has grown exponentially from something that was
“nice to have” to representing 80% of business communications.’Deutsche Bank
head of compliance for Britain and Western Europe, Andrew Proctor, said that the
bank was in discussion with software vendors about implementing a new system
over the next two months.

Although Proctor said the policy was not linked to any events at the bank, he
highlighted an ongoing investigation by the Financial Services Authority into a
Deutsche Bank official who was suspected of using email to give a misleading
impression of how well a sale of shares had gone.

UK union Amicus has previously slammed organisations that do not have clear
email privacy policies.

Information commissioner Richard Thomas has launched a code of
practice setting out that employees must be made aware of any monitoring of
their email and internet usage, apart from the most ‘exceptional circumstances’.

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