I sat down with Huw, our Quality and Compliance Manager, and Carole, Head of Network, to discuss the recent surge in demand for secure email.
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Paul: What is it you're finding that people are coming to you and asking what you know we've gone through COVID and there was a sort of a- I think a realisation of the fact that dealing with customers at a distance required certain measures to be taken and the professional services sector in general so not just the financial adviser sector where we're prolific all of them are dealing with customers.
They're very client centric, they deal with sensitive data every day and with email still as probably the most prevalent method of speaking to our clients at a distance preferred method.
I thought it would be interesting to understand what sort of questions you get what day to day are the sort of problems you get faced with or asked Let's start with Carole.
Carole: We're I guess first of all What we need to start thinking about is the kind of people that are coming to us asking you know to know about Mailock And we still get people coming to us.
Probably smaller firms that haven't yet come up with you know haven't yet got a solution in the business for this.
And you know it's really satisfying in my job to speak to a firm who has been worried about this And it seems like you mentioned the surge Paul.
And I think whereas Consumer Duty or whatever it is especially at the start of 2023 we got a real uptick in the smaller firms coming to us saying I really need to sort this out now this has been worrying me.
And it's really nice to do a demo to those types of firms And at the end of it receive the feedback this is just what I've been looking for This is great this is one less thing I have to worry about.
Paul: What do you think some of the reservations have been getting there because I know that you said to me a few times I don't think people realise that this is something that will just work off the cuff you know it's not.
Carole: Possibly you know people look at tech and think it's going to be painful. You know people are busy.
People have got day jobs have they got time to sort of test systems look at systems etc and the realisation that this is so easy to deploy install you know you can you can download the Mailock add in and register for the trial and be sending secure emails in the afternoon you know that's as quick and easy as it is.
It's totally integrated with your email and all things that people seem to really like. And probably the second demographic of people and probably you know that the rump of the people that come to us are those that have got existing systems within their businesses that maybe are not ticking all the boxes.
Or maybe are a little bit more cumbersome than they like them to be things like portals where businesses might not be getting full adoption across their client base and are maybe reverting to email for those clients that are for whatever reason reticent to engage with that portal.
For those clients who want the information sent direct to their inbox not have to retrieve it from a portal.
And you know things like password protecting especially again for the first quarter of this year we seem to be getting a lot of larger firms who've been probably password protecting maybe ever since.
And you know it's just you know at the end of a demo with Mailock they will always say that's so much easier than not we're doing now. That's so much better.
That solves that problem of that gap where we're not getting engagement with a certain set of people on the portal that will complement the portal perfectly.
Paul: And in fact from your point of view Huw you know we talk about this too. You're always saying to me this is not just about ticking regulatory boxes.
There are other facets to this system that people realise can have a real positive impact.
You know for a lot of time tech's an overhead isn't it it's friction and we- you guys particularly are in that loop of feeding back in to say look we've got to make sure that we think about this and think about that. I mean what are your thoughts around that.
Huw: I think it's very hard to say one- no one answer fits all solutions I think people come at it differently I think there's a lot of reticence about technology I think some of the demographic that we're dealing with people think oh that's technology. It's for younger people and it's beyond me.
And then once they use the system they think oh actually this is actually quite easy.
This is actually not as hard as I thought it was I think people certainly I think in financial services seem to segment-alise thier business that they think oh I'll get it securely But I don't necessarily need to send it securely But also when you talk to people they seem to think that they get that post isn't quite safe anymore but they think email as a generic thing is safe.
There was just a incident in the office the other day where somebody asked to send a credit card statement and they said oh don't worry we got a firewall it's protected and it was like - so there's a general misunderstanding of email traffic, how insecure email is in-transit.
And I think- you know we did a lot about personal data and identifiable data and I think people don't appreciate the problem that is not necessarily their problem but is a global problem.
They might have a little nugget of somebody's information but somebody else has got the other bit of that information and putting the whole thing together can identify somebody and that's what every company should be so aware in their minds have I got something that in with somebody else's information could identify an individual If they are then that is in breach.
Paul: This whole thing about identity is interesting In the last couple days Meta have announced that they're getting involved in identity you know and you know trillion dollar businesses that get interested in the subject we've been I think championing for a long time and that email is you know natively unsecure. What we're trying to do is make it feasible.
Somebody else Carole you mentioned actually when we were talking about this session was we we've been quite conscious I think of ensuring that the tech tries to even up the balance of it.
You know of course we provide big kit that can fit I say big kit kit that can sit within a big enterprise it's you know infrastructure and be sympathetic to all their other cyber software provisions.
But at the same time you know they- professional services is a people business And as a consequence you know it's not unusual to have smaller businesses that are equally as important have equally the same problems and we've tried to create tech that enables, that evens- you know gives them a chance a fighting chance of having some of those same controls and checks and balances.
Probably the most important person in all of this though is the consumer. I think one of the other questions that kept coming up was my customers aren't going to like this which is resoundingly not the case I mean from what I understand if it's communicated in the right way and I know a couple of times it's-
Carole: I think there's a really important point there I think we provide at the end or I will provide at the end of every demo session some narrative some content that that a firm can use to introduce the adoption of mailock to their clients.
And I think this is really really important because I think if consumers are aware and informed why you're doing something what it does for them it's a totally different story to being presented with something that they don't know. I think it almost flips it up the other way. Yeah totally.
For themselves - why aren't you doing this and you know that's the point you know and so there's almost an advocacy piece there isn't there.
The fact you're insuring that you know in dealing with this sensitive stuff you're respecting your clients' data and things.
I know that we've had a few people feedback really. It's certainly a service I feel it's a service that the firm should be saying to their clients is an extra service we are offering and it shows the commitment of that brand to the security of the data of their consumers. Yeah.
And that's what also leads into that other bit you talked about which is operational efficiency because of course this isn't about outbound comms This is about being able to swap information.
You know when you need that passport copy when you need that utilities bill whatever it might be the ID the ability for that person to reply and send you information and you talked about.
Huw: Yeah I think you know there's loads of people coming together at the same time you've got now an end consumer who virtually now cannot buy something online with a credit card without being sent a code or something in an app to verify your identity so that people are used to that now they accept that is keeping their money safe.
And I think probably if you listed people's priorities money would be that main thing they don't want to lose money but then they think it oh my identity I want to protect that So actually consumers I think are much more aware of what's going on in the world now rather than- than they have ever been before.
So I think they want to protect themselves. And I think that linking it all together we've got the ability now for end users to have free accounts so they can communicate backwards with whoever sent them the message or they're known to somebody else.
It's a whole we've closed the circle in terms of that communication loop So yeah they can get they can receive they can send back It's fairly frictionless now it's just a mindset.
I think just getting over that all this is really complicated and actually it isn't complicated. But it's just getting over that bit. And I think it's also perhaps possibly a misunderstanding.
Paul: Obviously you've got some very large enterprise clients that are now choosing to communicate with their own customers which again is very flattering to be a stakeholder in that part of thier- their important their communications ecosystems.
And with the advisers what the advisers probably don't realise or understand is their obligations possibly and and the fact the very same system can be employed to communicate with their customers about about the same sensitive topics you know.
Yeah that's the bit I think we we're keen to make sure people understand is this this isn't a uni-directional sort of piece of kit. It's meant to the ecosystem is growing now you know many millions of customers tens of thousands of advisers many tens of thousands and their support staff.
Huw: Yeah I think the biggest thing that when people contact us they say oh we don't need it any more I go makes no logical sense how can you not need it any more you know unless you've retired or or given up the business you clearly do need it funnily.
And I think people don't think about how they could use that the same information and pass it down to all their clients.
The biggest data breach is still sending the wrong the right email to the wrong person where and it's so easy in email you know you type somebody's first name and then you just do it quickly and you don't even look autofill it's happened to all of us you send it and then it's like wow.
An easy mistake and under that then is also that you've actually sent somebody else's data to the right to the wrong person. So you've got the email right but you put so the else's data in. So and it's all those things that people don't quite consider as being huge potential data breaches.
Carole: I think I think the ecosystem that Paul references as well it is really important from linking all that together as well because you know during at the end of any demo to for up for the person watching that demo to realise what we're trying to do here with this ecosystem that the intermediaries can talk to the providers who can then come back to them.
They can go out the client can come back you know everybody within- every actor in any transaction situation can access the same tech exactly the same tech the same capability at a price point that suits them from the enterprise to the £850 per user per month on the intermediary to the free for the client all talking together totally securely.
So during the course of any transaction or mortgage or whatever it might be. That data is always fully protected.
Paul: I- and I think the other one that's also worth just saying just to sort of dispel any misgivings or mis- comprehension I mean I remember and it doesn't happen anymore actually when we first started this journey people were saying well email will disappear you know it will disappear.
Well we're at 350 billion email sent and received every day that's projected to hit 390 billion within three years.
I think maybe a bit shorter. So we're on nothing but an upward spike and actually COVID accelerated that whole piece and in fact increased adoption and receptiveness from consumers so that you know you'll be surprised you know my 83 year old mum uses email now I mean in fairness it took a bit of time to get used to it.
Actually I bought her a smart device not because I was trying to contact her on email but because of Facetime. But I'm alone we're not unique you know when I started looking into this a lot of people did that with the same motive and smart device usage is prevalent in every demographic now.
So so I think the world's changed and it's going to continue to propel that side of things. It's good to understand some of the challenges.
Carole: I don't think you can survive in the world without a smart device I don't know how people survive I recently went up a tower in Italy and you needed to go online to buy your ticket. How do people do these things.
Paul: The other one of the things that's also interesting it's worth stating is that those who have a personal email address now statistically the majority today would have held that for more than ten years.
So you're more likely to stay in contact with them ironically digitally with their email address.
Carole: I think there's been as few surveys recently as well haven't there about some you know beginning of this year asking consumers how they want to be communicated with again referring to referencing consumer duty and email is king.
I think it won't change. Exactly.
Huw: Yeah well if you look at that the option isn't it you think that phone call text or email and look logic takes you because you think okay that's not going to interrupt me. So I would go for email because it's the ease it's the softer option when you're getting contact I mean.
I think it's also human behaviour isn't it. Yeah you know we've all got lots of portals 120 apparently you know whether it's your your air miles or your you know your Tesco shop but unfortunately when you've got 120 inboxes quite naturally that leads to lethargy you know whereas if you use the one you're connected with personally that helps a lot.
So I think on the operational efficiency as well anybody watching this all we need to do really is ask themselves think about the last transactional situation they were in whether it be a mortgage or an investment or a pension or whatever it was.
Think about along during that transaction where are the pinch points where are the pinch points where a secure email would have helped and B reduced stress because these things are stressful.
Carole: You know people applying for a mortgage it's stressful For the I- for the adviser It can be stressful for the for the applicants if things get stuck at certain pinch points because there is no obvious way to communicate and to transfer a document. Yeah think about that.
Think about well actually that would have really helped if I could have just accessed to a secure email solution that is you know going to keep everyone protected. Would that have helped. And that will really I think resonate with regards to operational efficiency.
And also you know when you send things you always want to do as has the person seen it have they read it, have they opened the document.
And yeah that's one of the biggest things ok you've ticked your box because you've sent it but ultimately you want to know well why haven't they replied yet. Is it have they not got it, have they not read it, have they not sent it. So I think the ability to be able to know quite easily- oh yeah they've it's been received and they've opened it so you know I could be reassured that they've got it now or you've done that horrible moment and I'm sure we've all done it - oops wrong person.
Paul: Yeah taking advantage of revoke and to have all those controls those checks and balances and that order you know is it's powerful not just from a compliance perspective but from a sales perspective when you know someone's got something and is the right person first of all.
And secondly, that the've opened the document. Well that's the perfect point to intersect or interject should I say in the sales enquiry and so you know this is these are some of the use cases. I think we come up against all the time.
Huw: Certainly well if you're an adviser and you know you're being chased at least you could say well they got it. They just they haven't actioned it get hold of them.
Carole: Again referencing consumer duty they- advisers are going to have to be able to demonstrate that their client has fully understood what was proposed to them If you can see an audit trail that they've opened that email, that they've open those attachments.
You are demonstrating that they have been fully versed fully informed about what you are proposing, so again a really useful sales tool.
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