A Guide To Effectively Supervise Your remote Workforce Without Micromanaging.

Remote work is gaining momentum across the world. It’s difficult to say how many companies have adopted remote work since the pandemic crisis began, but Gartner researchers provide some insight in one of their recent surveys. 

There are several advantages to adopting remote working, but the process has its challenges. It takes effort to stay connected when you are not physically there with your coworkers, team members, or colleagues, and with a little innovation and creativity, you can maintain high productivity and engagement with your employees. 

Some Pointers on Managing a Remote Team 

Choose The Right Infrastructure 

To achieve the speed and agility required for a smooth transition office to WFH you may have to consider technology infrastructure that can support the flexibility needed, e.g. cloud-based contact center and customer communication and collaboration solution. 

Use team Collaboration Tools.

Collaboration tools strengthen the team dynamic and build stronger bonds between employees who may not meet in person. 

Establish New Rules Of Meaningful Employee Engagement 

According to a survey published in The Wall Street Journal, one of the most important criteria that distinguishes successful organizations from others is that they provide employees the feeling of belonging. 

A study reveals those who work from home complete their jobs 39 percent faster than those who work in an office workspace. Employers must, however, create clear and quantifiable goals for their remote staff to set them up for success. 

Adopt Remote Monitoring Tools

With most communication happening through text or video calls, this leads to massive data build-up and challenges in supervision. 

The use of physical surveillance and phone monitoring is not feasible in the WFH scenario. Instead, employers must adopt AI-based quality assurance and compliance monitoring.

Track employee activities, goals, and rest parameters using tools and analytics. AI-driven quality assurance systems are one of the essential ways to manage remote employees. 

Misconduct is not limited to customer-facing interfaces only; instead, inter-employee communication is also critical for detecting misuse. 

Provide Personalized Feedback

Leaderboards are fantastic, but nothing matches one-on-one feedback. Supervisors should set aside time to engage with employees through video and evaluate client interactions, reinforcing appreciation and telling them that individual performance counts. 

Building connections and resolving disputes through active listening is achievable when you align technology and communication. The goal is to include mediums that give a plethora of info and communication cues. 

Optimize Upskilling With AI-driven Tailored Learning

Use a variety of distance learning strategies that have been proven to be the greatest fit for each employee using AI models. This includes video, team roleplays, and gamified learning. 

Avoid Micromanaging employees And Instead Macro-manage Customer Experience. 

While it’s disappointing to lose direct visibility into how employees spend their time when they work from home, top-line CX measures like C-Sat and NPS can be useful. Shift the focus on daily customer support KPIs for your organization, such as interaction quality and customer happiness.

Conduct Risk Monitoring And Control

It is necessary to design a conduct risk strategy. A risk-based supervision paradigm with a balanced scorecard is essential.  

All channels should be included, as well as real-time risk insights compared to commitments and a risk-based supervision approach. Humans in the loop are critical, and AI must be implemented. As AI is used in compliance risk, ethics, biases, and transparency are all essential. 

Promote A Positive Culture

Harsh controls are futile. Culture should be the focal point. Culture and creativity necessitate some face-to-face connection. This is crucial for long-term organizational efficiency because it fosters mutual understanding and a feeling of shared identity. 

 

According to Gartner, by 2023, fewer than one-third of digital employees will prefer to work in an office setting.

The most effective approach to successfully managing this continuing predicament and preparing for another crisis is to embrace cloud technology– specifically SaaS platforms. 

Businesses that invest in their people, policies, and technology to support remote work facilities will reap significant benefits in the short and long term. 

 

FCA Offers Guidelines For Working Remotely Or In A Hybrid Environment

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses were forced to embrace remote working almost instantly without any scope to prior preparations. Now, as the economy recovers, more people are sticking to flexible work schedules.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the United Kingdom has now issued guidelines to firms to meet their “regulatory obligations” while managing a remote or hybrid workplace.

The remote work “regulations,” according to the FCA, apply to current companies, organizations requesting to be regulated, and firms intending to submit further applications.

It added that remote working should have no impact on the company’s location in UK or ability to fulfill the threshold conditions for the regulated activities for which it has approval. 

The FCA advises companies to assess their remote and hybrid working arrangements on a “specific instance approach.” Existing firms that want to go totally remote should be able to show that not having a central office location will not hamper the company, its workers, customers, or the market. 

According to Principle 11 of the FCA’s Principles for Businesses, any substantial changes to how a firm plans to operate may need prior notification to the regulator. 

Businesses must also demonstrate that their remote working arrangements are well-planned.

The FCA offers a list of advice that includes the following:

  1. Review plans before making any permanent changes in the workplace.
  2. Practice proper governance and supervision across the departments in the organization or firm.
  3. Risk management, compliance, and auditing must be unaffected.
  4. Firms must take cybersecurity measures into account.
  5. Firms and organizations should continue to maintain appropriate record-keeping.
  6. Companies may also be obliged to inform the FCA of changes to their operations, depending on regulatory requirements.

The FCA and regulators should be able to receive information and do their job, and the remote working arrangement must not create any hindrance. 

Separate guidelines were issued by the FCA for firms seeking approval or planning to register. 

The suggestions include the following:

  1. Make arrangements for consumer access 
  2. Determine a place where FCA can visit. 
  3. Continuity of preparations in case of a Wi-Fi interruption at home 
  4. Consider the legal consequences of operating a business from a distance and remotely.
  5. The location of top management and their objectives for monitoring the company’s operations. 
  6. Confirm that your processes and procedures are consistent with the agreements. 
  7. The estimated duration of the arrangements (if not permanent). 
  8. How your company plans to respond to complicated consumer demands. 
  9. Customer authentication and vulnerability assessments setups. 
  10. A company should inform the employees that FCA visits may take place in their homes. 
  11. Plans for compliance audits to ensure that the remote working methodology is working appropriately. 

According to a thematic research report by Global Data, “[Office work] will not be the same after Covid-19.” Physical settings will change, and remote working with the help of technology will become the new norm for millions of people across the globe. 

The FCA stated that “the above mentioned is a suggestive and non-exhaustive list”.

Any remote or hybrid working approach that is adopted should not risk or compromise the firm’s ability to follow all regulations, regulatory standards, and obligations or result in a failure to meet them. 

You may find the complete list of the remote work guidelines on the FCA’s website.

 

ASIC Publishes Updated Guidance On Hawking Reforms

The ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) has updated its regulatory guidance on the prohibition of hawking financial products in the country. 

 The regulatory guide (RG 38) portrays the changes in the anti-hawking system under the Financial Sector Reform 2020, commencing on the 5th of October, 2021. It also clarifies how the reform affects commercial practices and how an industry can comply with it. 

 Introduction

 In 2018, ASIC identified bad sales behavior and poor customer outcomes by assessing unsolicited life insurance sales calls, where 40% of the consumers reported feeling pressured to buy a product.

 In 2019, the ASIC passed legislation prohibiting the unsolicited selling of direct life insurance and consumer credit insurance.

 In July 2021, ASIC issued Consultation Paper 346 Updates to RG 38 The hawking prohibition in July 2021, asking stakeholder opinion on proposed RG 38 (21181MR) updates. ASIC received 19 written submissions and carried out a meeting with industry and consumer groups on multiple occasions.

 The proposed reforms were designed to tackle the harm caused to consumers by unwanted products sold to them through cold calls or other unwelcome contacts.

 ASIC Deputy Chair Karen Chester said, ‘These updates put in place fairness measures, so customers are not offered items they don’t want or need. The prohibitions mean a consumer’s need will determine how any business offer products. ‘ 

What’s new

 The reforms introduced by the government mean that customers will have more choice over how and when they are offered products, instead of being amidst a situation where they feel

forced to make snap decisions. Under the new law, ASIC will have the power to deal with businesses that pressure people into purchasing products that aren’t beneficial for them. 

The guideline clarifies industries on how to comply with the system and how the reforms influence business operations. With the constructive responses from the industry and other stakeholders obtained throughout the consultation process, ASIC improved its guidelines. Additionally, ASIC also shared 12 samples of the input received.

 ASIC has said that at the start of the new obligations, which start during the first week of October, it will take a fair attitude if industry players make best efforts to comply (21-213MR). 

Key features of the reforms include: 

  1. All financial products (as specified in the Corporations Act 2001);
  2. A definition of “unsolicited contact” that includes any “real-time engagement in the manner of a conversation or discussion” without consumer agreement, in addition to in-person meetings and phone conversations;
  3. Consumer assent to contact must be voluntary, positive, clear, and reasonable to comprehend;
  4. The consent be only valid for six weeks from the date it is given and that the consumer has the right to withdraw it at any time; and
  5. A statutory right of return for customers who have been subjected to hawking.

 The Treasurer has approved regulations exempting certain products from the hawking regime since ASIC published its consultation. RG 38 provides a summary of products that are exempt from the hawking prohibition under the Corporations Regulations.

For further reading: ASIC, 21-257MR ASIC publishes guidance on hawking reforms, [media release], 23rd September 2021. 

 

Continuous control monitoring with AI

Continuous control monitoring (CCM) is a technology-based solution for constantly monitoring processes and leveraging sample-based testing methods for more cost-effective monitoring. CCM lowers audit costs by continuously monitoring transactional systems.

A simple Control Monitoring isn’t enough to keep things under control.

In a digital world, the control environments can not keep up with the difference in the ever-changing regulatory requirements and evolving risk dynamics. Reviewing thousands of processes, systems, and geographical locations, companies often find many overlapping and redundant controls and a significant manual effort to test and report the efficacy of the control environment. In addition, control rationalization and operationalization continuously keep the cost high.

Teams that keep an eye on risk must be aware of the rapid changes that might occur in an elegant setting on a minute-by-minute basis. Whatever the environment, whether it’s new product launches, financial information, or confidential customer information, it must be monitored and analyzed. Unfortunately, companies can’t keep up with this level of examination with only human resources. Unless a continual auditing process uses automation to achieve its goals, humans will make mistakes.

Therefore you see the old form of control monitoring is unacceptable, and there is a growing need for control definition to support new operational requirements and adapt to the hybrid work environment.

Control Monitoring with AI-based automation

Organizations need to plan for control transformation where internal control functions should include a common language of risk and control that offers clarity and centralizes tasks that can drive efficiency. With highly automated and real-time control environments, real-time identification of issues, rapid course correction, and optimal resource allocation for testing and monitoring controls allow management to focus on driving growth.

Process automation tools like RPA and unstructured data analytics with NLP and machine learning have a lot to offer. AI systems can support real-time monitoring of control and can automatically adapt to the exceptions and reduce human supervision. In addition, predictive insights can help continuous risk sensing.

Things to consider when selecting a control automation tool.

  • How flexible it’s risk taxonomy and control framework?
  • Does it support control libraries, the level of granularity for control definition, and how easy is it to create custom ones and integrate them with AI
  • Can the AI adapt to ever-changing risk dynamics?
  • What level of human supervision is required?
  • What level of transparency does it provide, and does it supports AI explainability?
  • Does it support risk-based control testing, and how flexible and the level of automation?
  • Does it support an Open API & how well is it integrated with business applications?
  • What is the level of flexibility it has for the operational model in a hybrid work environment?
  • How well it supports governance and workflow around the 3-lines defense model?

Sources of Conduct Risk

Understanding and addressing the drivers of conduct risk is fundamental in further developing standards of behavior. The sources of conduct risks can be categorized into:

  1. Inherent factors
  2. Governance and business processes
  3. Economic and environmental factors

Let’s understand these factors/ sources of conduct risks in detail.

Inherent Factors

Various inherent factors are causing the conduct risks in different businesses and industries. These factors can be seen as the combined effect of failures of the suppliers and weakness of customers. The situation caused by these factors becomes worse when the customers are not financially strong enough to buy the goods sold by the supply market. Moreover, these factors communicate with the already existing management, which is mixed completely with the financial market, creating conflicts of interest and causing conduct risks.

There are three inherent factors which are:

  • Information asymmetries: The situation occurs when one of the two, i.e., sellers and customers, have more or less knowledge regarding the product. Mostly the sellers try to hide information in front of the customers, which results in a lack of symmetry.
  • Biases, rules of thumb, and mental shortcuts: This is when buyers make decisions based on influence by the financial advisors, even if they have the complete information about the product. Here the customer makes decisions based on bias, available news or reviews, overconfidence in a brand, and framing.
  • The growing importance of financial capability: when customers take decisions beyond their financial capabilities, conduct risks occur. A financial capability that can lead to unwanted results is a lack of confidence, understanding, knowledge, motivation, etc.

Governance and business processes

The conduct risks caused by governance and business processes of sellers fall in this category. The organizations’ structures, management, operations, and governance framework are executed to make the organization profits. These are not executed keeping in mind the customer benefits, resulting in bad customer feedback. This can be further broken into three factors:

  • Conflicts of interest: disagreement between the interests of seller and customer is one of the severe threats to good conduct. Conflicts of interest cause conduct risks when the interests of sellers do not match with the interests of customers.
  • Culture and incentives: A firm’s culture or the incentive model often causes disagreement of interest, causing conduct risks.
  • Ineffective competition: When preliminary competition arises in the market, conduct risks are most likely to occur. The inadequate competition happens when the sellers sell their goods and services at much higher rates to earn enormous profits. This causes customers to switch the brand; hence firms lose valuable customers.

Economic and environmental factors

The economic and environmental factors play an important role in the decisions taken by the firm and customers. From time to time, changes along with new technologies affect these decisions even more. The financial market’s development greatly impacts the products and services offered by the firms — macro-economic developments that can affect financial markets and, in turn, the drawn-out requirements of consumers. Firms incapably reacting to these pressures can prompt poor conduct outcomes. These factors are those which are the cause of conduct risks but uncontrollable by the firms or customers. The economic and environmental factors can be categorized as:

  • Economic and market trends: When the economy and the financial market evolves, it affects the products and services provided by the financial organizations, customer’s needs, and profits earned by selling the products.
  • Technological development: In the financial industry, technological evolution has changed the way it operates. Now, everything from initiating a transaction to check transaction history is available online. This evolution has benefited the customers. However, the advancement of technology has created many risks related to financial services. The customers’ information is exposed online, fraudulent cases risen, etc., are few conduct risks caused by technology development.
  • Regulatory and policy change: Regulatory and policy change must happen promptly to ensure the financial market’s development. The motive of structural changes in the financial market is to achieve better results for the consumers served by the banking institutions.

Conduct risk is available in practically all parts of a monetary foundation, driven by a company’s methodology, item, administrations, and sales lifecycle. Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to manage conduct risk; each firm should handle it differently. In any case, firms can quantify and oversee conduct risk feasibly by catching risk data to foster a broad viewpoint on traditional sources and pointers of potential lead conduct risk failures.

Supervision in a hybrid work environment

It is by now evident that the protracted effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the workforce lifestyles and patterns across the world aren’t in a crisis management stage anymore — they are here to stay. Ever since the virus gained its ‘pandemic’ status, organizations worldwide forced to shift their workforces into isolated silos of their homes in an attempt to halt the spread.

However, this is just the beginning of what appears to be a long haul for business owners and corporates who’re unused to supervising security and compliance issues across remotely working teams using a bewildering array of collaborative video and audio-based communication tools.

For firms preparing to design supervision in this hybrid environment with a distributed workforce model, here are some things to consider:

Evolving collaboration tools

More and more of the active workforce is quickly realizing the benefits of the remote working lifestyle. From call center executives to financial advisors, sales staff, and more, functions previously unimaginable without an office set up are being seamlessly conducted from home-based setups. This growth spurt is supported by video communication collaboration platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, and Slack and innovatively mixed and matched by our existing audio and text tools such as calls and text.

A customer journey may start with a video conference, include telephonic support through the contact center, and have complaints resolution update sent via an SMS — to support a genuinely omnichannel communication experience.

Effectiveness of supervision model

With the emergence of a hybrid remote work environment involving multiple collaboration tools, the standard supervision model of call listening or physical oversight has become challenging and irrelevant.

As part of the risk management systems and internal controls, supervision needs to have established control functions. Therefore, these control functions’ central role and independence need to be reviewed.

Distributed supervision model also restricts internal audit function, including lack of access to data points, insufficient depth or scope. The on-site assessment is a critical method used to assure the effectiveness of control functions.

It is necessary to redesign supervision models with integrated control monitoring to support a risk-based supervision approach to manage operational risk and keep a proper audit function.

Emerging operational risk

In the traditional operational risk model, the senior management usually establishes a framework based on their understanding of risk and shows training and processes. However, in remote workspaces, behavior often goes unchecked. It takes extreme forms such as fraud, where firms may be inadvertent participants via dishonest customer-facing staff or maybe at the receiving end of unscrupulous persons who take shelter in legal loopholes and general anonymity that digital workspaces offer.

The risks may include misconduct, privacy issues, data disclosures, compliance, regulatory breaches through inappropriate behavior over audio, text, and video communications that are at odds with the company and regulatory policies. In addition, bullying & inappropriate behaviors in a distributed workplace are forms of abuse that are a risk that can create enormous reputation damage.

Managing regulatory expectations

The Covid era has given rise to financial crimes such as fraud, cybercrime, money laundering, trade abuse, market manipulation, conduct issues, terrorist financing, and tax violations. As a result, regulatory bodies have become more alert about the vulnerability of the remote work environments that financial markets are functioning in and increased regulatory and compliance accountability of financial institutions involving hefty fines and damaging legal implications for defaulters.

The senior management must consider that they have set foot into a time and space where their ability to measure and manage compliance breaches is relatively untested and immediately under the highest level of scrutiny.

Cultural alignment

With its soft and unpredictable nature, the nature of culture makes it a challenging attribute to analyze, anticipate, or influence.

In a distributed working model, handling culture and its alignment becomes a bigger ask from any firm’s management, with employees not having face-to-face interaction. Moreover, these behavioral misdemeanors are at odds with company policies on racial and ethnic abuse, personal attacks, sexual advances, threats, profanity, bullying, and so on.

Developing a robust risk culture lies in assessing the implementation of controls through the visible evidence of culture. It is essential to consider the right tools and framework that can assist in the measurement of risk and influence culture.