Why Productivity and Managing Compliance in Finance Go Hand in Hand

Productivity Compliance in Finance

It’s no secret that the financial services sector is one of the most highly regulated industries. Afterall, dealing with some of the most private and privileged information consumers’ and corporations’ have requires oversight. Being held to these regulations is costly. Between the costs these organizations spend to remain compliant and the penalties and fines they face when they’re found to have noncompliant practices, financial organizations dedicate a hefty sum to the regulation policies they’re held to. Over the last decade, the cost of staying compliant has risen steadily. But this investment comes with benefits to companies that do so. Such is the case with improving productivity while managing compliance in finance.

To achieve this, financial services must look to multi-use technologies that rely on behavioral observation and analysis to govern their organizational compliance. Here, we see how a regional bank used a single solution to both improve productivity and manage compliance as a financial institution. 

Productivity And Compliance In Practice

The bank, having recently suffered a data breach, was in search of a company wide compliance management tool they could distribute across all employees. Following the discovery and containment of the breach, a regulatory investigation revealed employee practices were far from compliant. Because of this, on top of paying for the direct costs of the breach itself, the bank was also held to compliance penalties and fines that almost doubled their breach costs.

These higher longtail data breach costs are common for highly regulated industries like finance. Compliance failures are the most cost amplifying factors for data breaches, and the industries most likely to be affected by them are the ones that face more regulations, like financial services. 

The regional bank unfortunately experienced this firsthand. And, to avoid this again in the future, wanted to increase their regulation investment by acquiring a suitable compliance software. Their search for such a technology led them to user activity monitoring, or employee monitoring. 

Once panned as an overreach and an employee invocation of privacy, activity monitoring goes beyond watching social media and personal website use. Employee monitoring suites of today monitor company data usage, server access and file transfers. Providing behavior intelligence reports, these software agents alert administrators to data misusage, unauthorized access attempts and workflow trends. Using these features, employee monitoring becomes a data loss prevention and compliance management system rather than simply an activity tracking suite. 

The bank was sold on this single solution; not only would they be able to monitor compliance, they’d also have an end-user data loss prevention software. 

Gamifying Productivity For Better Efficiency

Before rolling out the system across all branches, the bank performed a three month test run at their main offices. This helped their IT team familiarize themselves with the software and take the temperature of employee sentiment. The overall results surprised them. 

Without being prompted, employees began gamifying their tasks. Because the activity monitoring tracked the time spent on tasks, administrators and employees were able to see how they spent their time during working hours. Certain tasks obviously took longer than others and certain employees took longer performing tasks than others. Once employees found out, a friendly competition that increased productivity was started: who could best improve their time on their most daunting task? 

Working became a game and productivity soared. Even better, the main office’s overall environment transformed. Employees bonded and began sharing their shortcuts and work processes with each other. The office mood lightened and employees found their own ways to work smarter to get more work done more efficiently. 

This was a byproduct of their initial reason for the investment, compliance. Turning to the HR and IT departments, the bank’s decision to deploy activity monitoring was further justified. 

Proactively Managing Compliance

Implementing and managing compliance standards is often considered to have a negative impact on productivity, but as seen at the bank, actually had an opposite effect. While the bank’s overall productivity benefited from user activity monitoring, IT and HR benefited from its intended use as a compliance management system even more. 

Over the course of the bank’s main office trial period, administrators were alerted to six different types of compliance malpractices, each stemming from processes used by individual employees at the bank. Being alerted to these noncompliant practices in real time allowed IT and HR administrators to work out a solution before the issues became a problem during an audit. The bank estimated this saved them from paying an upwards of $7.2 million in compliance penalties. While this is a far cry from the global average of almost $15 million, it was still a sizable amount for a regional bank.

Even during the investigation period of noncompliant behavior, the monitoring suite showed its force. The bank’s internal forensic investigators were able to quickly search the recordings using the software’s OCR search feature to find similar instances of potentially noncompliant employee actions. This allowed them to again correct the behaviors and find solutions proactively. The forensic team also noted that having the same search functionality during the bank’s previous data breach could have helped to more quickly diagnose and contain the breach event. 

Having an understanding of the way data was being handled outside of regulations allowed IT to further customize their activity monitoring agent to ensure all standards and practices, whether they were agency regulations or the bank’s policies, were being followed. Not only was compliance managed and productivity improved, but workflows unified to meet the bank’s charter and standards. 


With the right tools, improving productivity and managing compliance in finance go hand in hand. For the bank, activity monitoring was that tool. Rather than disrupting productivity for the sake of compliance, the bank was able to increase it while also ensuring adherence to their industry’s necessary regulation and compliance measures. By doing so, money was saved, penalties and fines averted and the bank’s return on investment almost immediately delivered.  


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