Richard Mill from Business Systems explains how city firms have all too often ended up with a mixed bag of recording platforms, a compliance mainstay – but help is at hand

The reality of call recording the City’s voice trading platforms is that it’s a complex animal – so what can be done to bring it under control?


The vast majority of financial firms operate with voice recording systems that span multiple product versions with multiple capture protocols, from multiple vendors and often in multiple geographies. Aaahhh! Too many multiples to run a good business! These manifest themselves as real issues for data management, and also equate to large bills to accommodate legacy technology. From the business perspective it is immensely challenging to track down specific data quickly when it is needed, making the meeting of regulator deadlines for producing evidence when requested worryingly low.


It’s a problem that worsens with time, as databases can quickly build up to millions, if not billions, of recorded calls. And of course, having multiple repositories of siloed data makes data coherence across business operations impossible unless steps are taken to achieve ‘unification’. Unification of data becomes the essential factor in achieving compliance and operational efficiency – and as regulation tightens across financial worlds this requirement increases.


A way forward

Richard Mill

So what are the essential attributes that deliver ‘unification’? Point one, a recording file that is admissible in court, is in its original format and the integrity of which is unchallenged. Point two, secure on-going access and management of the data for the required life-cycle – which can be long. Point three, bringing multi-product, multi-vendor systems together –and extracting the metadata from these systems while retaining its original format for seamless on-going usage via a portal. Point four, the sobering reality that today’s current technology is tomorrow’s legacy so accommodating manufacturers’ end-of-life (EOL) policies is essential.

Clearly, City CIOs need a serious, strategic answer to ‘unification’. Here’s how three major investment banks dealt with this complex issue, and we can see how technology helped with their legacy and interoperability issues, as well as compliance.

In a first example, driven by a set of intersecting challenges around legacy and data governance a global/US bank was operating systems based outside of the EU, these had reached EOL status and were beyond vendor support. This also coincided with the fact that Microsoft Windows Server 2003 was also EOL and the bank had a responsibility mandate to remove this from their infrastructure.

The risk, both commercial and compliance, was that trader call recordings would become trapped in outdated legacy infrastructure, yet it was essential that the recordings remained accessible for the full retention period as required by financial regulation. The good news is that by using a modern agnostic central portal, one that was capable of locating data from different systems and locations, this became possible; accommodating in the process recordings that were live on-premise, live in the cloud, or pulling from obsolete legacy storage – all calls became available from one single point of access. Additionally, all the audio records were easily moved to different locations if and when required, allowing the bank to store calls in alternatively preferred locations with no loss of data integrity or access.

In addition the portal facility provided a full audit across the entire database thereby allowing those call records which exceeded the official retention period to be removed. In this particular case, the figure was in excess of a hundred million records representing 30% of the cache, significantly reducing storage costs and business risk.

Extracting out of third-party systems across a large bank IT estate


The second example concerns a well-known French-based investment bank that had ten live recorders across a large estate. It wanted to extract all voice recordings for deeper analysis in a newly implemented analytics application. It needed a solution to automate the process and do so speedily, as there was only a short overnight window to do this work in order to meet its project goal.

In this instance, a centralised interface solution gave the customer the ability to extract the files from multiple call recording systems during the time allowed. This process also means that if at any point in the future the bank decides to change its analytics application, they can do so easily with no detriment to the process. In other words, they future proofed their ability to extract voice recordings in bulk, regardless of the underlying voice recording system, and deliver those files to other business applications at will.

The final example, deals with the requirement to address the proliferation of multiple new channels and voice recording platforms (conversations taking place in Skype for Business, Cisco, Unigy, etc.). The financial organisation in question sought a centralised portal that could incorporate all the legacy calls, and would also perform a full on-going ingest of all the live calls across all the new interaction platforms.

A principle driver here was to remove mounting support costs of legacy platforms. At the same time it has provided one central interface for all call records be they legacy or live which can now be passed straight across to its internal compliance team. This means their business colleagues can easily replay and extract calls, as well as report on data as needed.

These examples show how a multi-vendor central voice data portal can help address legacy and interoperability issues and also create competitive advantage. There really is no need to keep on living with voice recording complexity – the tiger is tamed!


The author is Managing Director of Business Systems (UK) Ltd, a specialist for 30 years in providing call recording and workforce optimisation solutions, such as Wordwatch call recording portal



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