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Cybersecurity risks for advisors and their teams have grown rapidly as remote and hybrid work took off since the pandemic and many services have gone virtual. At the same time, cybercriminals have become even more creative in their attempts to access sensitive information.

Some of the challenges advisors face in working remotely include not having the immediate IT support that they might have had in the office when an incident occurs.

Globe Advisor editor Pablo Fuchs spoke with Darren Mar, national sales manager at NPC DataGuard in Markham, Ont., about the measures advisors can implement in their practices to protect their teams and clients from cyber attacks.

What are the best practices that advisors should set for their teams?

As much as we focus on prevention, the one thing everyone should have – whether you’re two people, one person or 100 people – is an incident response plan. This is the document that you will refer to in the midst of a crisis. What you don’t want to be doing is figuring out what you should be doing at that time because it’s chaos. You will not be able to come out of this cleanly. So, you want to focus on having a good incident response plan for the company. A company like ours might be involved, or lawyers and an insurance company.

You want that plan in place and visited once a year to make sure it’s up to date because the worst possible case is figuring things out for the first time in the midst of the crisis.

Beyond that on a day-to-day [basis] … you should have a really firm grasp on what you have and own as a company when it comes to IT – assets and who can see what from a permissions standpoint. Putting these kinds of policies in place will force you to have that work done; then, you’re just doing maintenance.

What key components do advisors need to train their teams on to ensure they know what to do daily and in the worst-case scenario?

Funnily enough, for the first time this year I’m getting a lot of calls from clients who are sending me a page out of their errors and omission insurance renewal standard … [that’s asking ] do they do cyber training? Do they offer it to their staff?

My response is a great place to start is a lot of the membership organizations do a lot of continuing education training courses – and that all counts toward advisor training. We have a bank of free webinars on general IT practices such as protecting your identity online using multi-factor authentication and making sure you have the right tools in place to secure your environment. Those all count toward training.

[Training around] how to manage your computer properly, what websites to go to, where not to go to, what to look for in an e-mail – I don’t think you need to overburden yourself and do this too often – more than, say, monthly. But you probably want to have a bank of topics – and there are lots of great resources out there about what [things] to watch for. Then, do [the training] on a quarterly, semi-annual, or yearly basis where you know that you’re going over some frontline stuff.

You do want to provide that [training] as frequently as you feel is possible or needed on the topics that you think would be most important to you.

This interview has been edited and condensed. The entire interview can be viewed here.

– Globe Advisor Staff

Must-reads from Globe Advisor this week

Why rising interest in traditional fixed income is not affecting alternatives

More money managers are turning to alternative investments to diversify their portfolios, even amid rising yields for seemingly safer bonds and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs). More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of advisors are using alternatives – such as private equity, debt, real estate, royalties and infrastructure – to reduce exposure to public markets, according to a recent report from Cerulli Associates Inc. While some investors may see GICs as a better option in volatile markets, experts say it depends on the type of alternative investment. Brenda Bouw speaks to portfolio managers about their strategies using these two types of products in the current market environment.

How advisors must evolve to meet the needs of the next generation

Surviving the financial advice industry’s ongoing seismic shift will require advisors to adopt a new identity. Several of them, in fact. In particular, advisors will need to establish creative new ways of prospecting for clients, experts say, as an increasing number of baby boomers enter retirement and trigger the decumulation phase of their wealth plans. Some say an advisor must be a combination of a counsellor, coach and cheerleader for their clients. Jameson Berkow looks at the changing dynamics in the relationship between advisors and clients and what the advisor of the future may look like.

How to budget for renovations as more decide to stay in their homes

The boom for home renovations is still raging as many are choosing to stay in their homes instead of risking the rollercoaster ride that’s the current Canadian housing market. Advisors are also having more planning chats with their clients on how to pay for these changes – especially in light of inflation and rising interest rates. The difference between want and need is a topic that needs to happen at the beginning of any home renovation discussion, experts say. Daina Lawrence reports on what homeowners and advisors need to consider before embarking on a home reno.

How to avoid cryptocurrency investment scams

With cryptocurrency prices at a low ebb, investors might be tempted to put some money into these speculative assets. The market’s wild growth lured many naive investors afraid of missing out as the hype blurred the line between investment and gambling and attracted some unsavoury characters. What should advisors tell clients about the risks? When clients want to test the water, one of the first things advisors should do is help them avoid becoming shark bait. Scammers can smell fresh chum from miles away. Danny Bradbury looks at the different types of investment scams investors face and how advisors can educate them.

Also see:

How to handle digital assets after death – even if there’s a will

How advisors can prepare for taking a sabbatical from their practice

How new applications in agtech are creating investment opportunities

U.S. banks threaten to leave Mark Carney’s green alliance over legal risks

‘Green’ funds warned of hazardous grey areas

What you and your clients need to know

Raymond James’s chief executive aims to add $30-billion in assets over five years

Amid an economic slowdown that has seen job losses begin to emerge in some parts of the financial sector, Jamie Coulter, chief executive officer of Canadian wealth manager Raymond James Ltd., is on a different course, with plans to recruit more than 60 investment advisors and add $30-billion in assets over the next five years. Mr. Coulter is moving ahead with an aggressive growth plan to increase assets to $100-billion, up from the current $70-billion it manages today. Clare O’Hara reports on Raymond James’ growth plans.

Eight charts to watch as Canada flirts with recession

On several fronts, things are getting worse for Canada’s economy. Growth is petering out. The labour market is shedding jobs. And inflation is far too high. In turn, a growing number of domestic banks are projecting Canada will slip into recession by next year. The mood soured on Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve forecast that U.S. economic growth would slow to a meagre 0.2 per cent this year – unwelcome news for Canada’s largest trade partner. How vulnerable are Canadians to a downturn? Matt Lundy looks at eight metrics to watch for signs of distress.

Don’t underestimate how productive quiet time can be

A new study finds that part of the reason our life is a frenzy is that we underestimate how enjoyable and productive it can be to just sit and think. The study involved six experiments, one in which participants were told they could choose between a lottery where they had a 70-per-cent chance of being in a situation where they could only sit alone and think and another lottery with a 70-per-cent chance of being able to browse news sites online. More chose the lottery with the news site option, but participants in the “thinking only” condition enjoyed it more than they expected. Harvey Schachter looks at why people prefer keeping themselves busy rather than taking a moment for reflection.

– Globe Advisor Staff

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