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Friday, February 17, 2006

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.

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.

A PricewaterhouseCooper’s spokeswoman added the firm’s staff undertook market abuse training and were aware that communications could be monitored.  ‘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.

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’.

Posted on 02/17