Emma Ann Hughes  

WhatsApp with the regulator’s rules

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

I can remember the excitement when a local newspaper I worked for got a single computer that received email.

We didn’t have our own email addresses back in 2001 – just one person in the office could check what was being sent to us via that new-fangled worldwide web.

We relied mainly on picking up the phone, speaking to contacts, getting out and about in the community and notices, letters and press releases that came through the letter box to deliver local news.

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Fast forward to 2017 and would you even consider for a split second working for an organisation that only had one computer capable of receiving emails?

The way we communicate has been transformed in less than 20 years… and it is time the Financial Conduct Authority adapted its rules to recognise this fact.

Speaking at the Fintech Conference of the Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association (Pimfa) earlier this week, a panel of technology experts said the FCA will soon have to recognise “the reality on the ground” and allow advisers to communicate through chat services like WhatsApp.

Douglas Orr, chief executive of messaging platform Novastone, said the use of email in Asia is already becoming redundant in favour of services like WhatsApp and WeChat.

He said email is “dead” and UK regulators need to recognise this.

He said: “The Singaporean authority came out with their new ruling earlier this year that you can use WhatsApp and WeChat but you need to do it in a secure way and record the conversation.

“That is not the case with the FCA but the Singaporean authority has been driven by the client in Asia, the reality on the ground, and that will probably become our reality soon.”

The regulator, providers and advisers need to get their heads around about “millennial” communication preferences.

Yes, I know the bulk of your clients aren’t 20 somethings glued to their iPhones but we need to understand how young people communicate these days in order to grasp the future of workplace communication overall.

Whether you like it or not, you and the regulator need to prepare for those changes. 

Anecdotal evidence should tell you that millennials hate talking on the phone. Having a lengthy chat on the telephone seems so last century.

O2 produced a study that showed that “telephone” apps on smartphones that allow you to use your phone to make actual phone calls are only the fifth-most-used app among the general public.

Phones aren’t used to make phone calls anymore so rules that assume this is the way advisers will be having discussions are outdated. 

This generation grew up with the gradual introduction of instant messaging, texting, email and other forms of written communication.