3 Things the Financial Services industry should know about web archiving

| November 21 2018

Remember when nothing terribly important happened on social media? When Facebook was just a silly diversion where twenty-somethings could let their friends know what they were up to?

For better or for worse, those days are gone, and probably for good. In the financial services industry, that means your job might have gotten a lot harder. Or has it?

As social media has risen in importance and moved from mere entertainment to an important source of marketing and business communications, financial services firms have had to adapt. Every major regulatory agency insists that business communications must be retained, regardless of whether they occur via pen and paper, social media, or carrier pigeon.

For example, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) states that whether something is “business as such”—and therefore subject to retention requirements—depends on “the content of the communication not the type of device or technology used” to convey it. Firms must be able to readily review and supervise all of those communications. Similarly, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC)’s Notice MR0281 provides that communications with the public “focus[] on the nature of various communications and not on the methods by which such communications are disseminated.” Nor is this a North American quirk: the EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) demands that financial services firms have a reliable method for capturing and retaining records of communications, however they occur, whether that be face-to-face, on paper, or through some form of electronic or online communication.

And retaining records—including records of your online and social media business communications—is clearly in your best interests, with or without the rules mandating recordkeeping. How else can you prove that you’re complying with the rest of the tangled web of rules and regulations that you’re subject to?

The good news is that there’s a way to put your online communication archives on autopilot, so you can stop dreading a regulatory inquiry and greet it instead with, if not enthusiasm, at least confidence.

How? By ensuring that your web capture method has three crucial traits. It must:

  • let you archive everything, including dynamic, linked, and interactive content;

  • keep that data in a permanent, immutable, future-proof format; and

  • allow you to use that data to supervise your communications and prove your compliance.

Let’s look at each of those parts individually.

1. Archive Everything (Or, at least have the capabilities to)

With early webpages, what you could see on the page was pretty much what you got (which is why they now look so intensely cluttered and overwhelming). Today, the web is a dynamic, interactive, interwoven ecosystem of constantly changing content. Think about it: most sites are so stripped-down that you can’t even see a site-navigation menu unless you interact with the hamburger icon.

How on earth is a screenshot or a static capture from an application program interface (API) going to accurately convey all of the communication happening on a page like that?



You can either rewind your website to 1993,
or you can see hanzo in action

Jump on this 20-minute live webinar to see for yourself how Hanzo archives the most complex financial websites to empower your marketing teams with the freedom to sell.

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Don’t go back to an early 90s design, please. Instead, adopt a web capture tool that crawls the entire site and generates WARC (Web ARChive) files that capture every interactive and dynamic feature in native format. That way, your web archive will include full video, fillable calculators, and more—so you can communicate with your customers the way you need to, without being held back by retention requirements.

While you’re collecting everything, remember that FINRA rules also govern links to third-party sites, which aren’t permitted “if there are any red flags that indicate the linked site contains false or misleading content.” That means your archives should collect every linked page as it looked at the time of the linkage, so you can monitor sites for concerns and prove that when you provided links, there were no red flags.

Use Immutable, Future-Proof Storage

Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 17a-4 states that required records must be preserved “exclusively in a non-rewriteable, non-erasable format” to ensure that they are retained in their original state. That means any method you use to capture online or social media content must save files in WORM (write once read many) storage that cannot be overwritten.

There’s one other point to bear in mind here: you may be hanging on to your records for years (and years) to come. With the exponential growth of technology, what will computers look like in six or 10 years? Will your captured files still be operational? Give some thought in the present to future-proofing your files. That’s another reason we use ISO 28500-compliant WARC files; they’re the gold standard that will work on any platform and any system today or 50 years from now, no matter where technology takes us.

Work With—Not Against—Your Archives

You’re obligated to supervise all of your business communications and monitor the activities of associated persons, which means you don’t just need to have pretty archives sitting on the shelf collecting virtual dust. You need something you can get in there and use.

Your web capture results should be more robust than, say, PDF files. You want something with full text recognition and search capability so that you can filter, sort, and search through your archives for specific fields, users, and keywords. Again, WARC files allow straightforward native-format review with no file conversion or text extraction necessary.

While you’re at it, remember that your records only prove your compliance if you can actually get them out the door! Make sure you can export your data from your archives into a portable format for one-step production in response to a regulatory inquiry.

Compliance is a hard enough job without fighting against your technology. Adopt an approach that lets you capture everything simply and easily, in immutable WORM storage that complies with regulatory requirements, and in native-format files that allow you to effortlessly review your communications and supervise your employees. When you make your web capture and social media preservation work for you, you can transform the dread of a regulatory inquiry into confidence.

Ready to capture confidence? Get in touch with Hanzo today; we’ll show you how you can get started.





Jump on this 20-minute live webinar to see for yourself how Hanzo archives the most complex financial websites to empower your marketing teams with the freedom to sell.

See Hanzo in Action



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