Advisers risk underestimating the importance of cyber security

Research from Fidelity’s FundsNetwork has revealed that just 6% of advisers recognise the threat posed by cyber security as a major challenge for their business*, despite the risk of attacks increasing.

Analysis from NextWealth, on behalf of FundsNetwork, revealed advisers are primarily concerned with the challenges presented by compliance and changing regulation - with only a small minority worried about attacks on their systems or managing clients’ concerns about cyber security.

With the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) handling more than 10 attacks per week within its first two years**, and identifying financial services as a targeted sector, far greater emphasis is required to help financial advice businesses prepare for potential risks. 

Jackie Boylan, Head of FundsNetwork, Fidelity International, said: "Cyber security is one of the biggest risks companies face, with attacks increasingly sophisticated in nature. Sectors associated with the transfer or holding of sensitive customer data - particularly financial data - are a prime target for hackers. Therefore, it is imperative those working in financial services understand the risks they face, and how best to prepare for the worst.

"While there are steps advisers can take to bolster their own systems, one of the first points for consideration should be encouraging vigilance amongst employees - making sure they know how to spot potential scams. Email provides hackers with an easy point of entry into an organisation; simply clicking on a link can provide them with access to data and the ability to cause widespread disruption. Increasing awareness of risks can help to encourage behavioural change, ensuring everyone understands their responsibility to pause and think about the materials they access."

Heather Hopkins, NextWealth adds: "Cyber security is important but often gets left off the urgent list in businesses. Our research for FundsNetwork suggests this is the case in many financial advice businesses. Pressing day-to-day challenges have a habit of superseding long-term structural challenges. Cyber security is on the radar but firms may not be doing enough to protect themselves and their clients."

Top ten steps to help protect your business

  1. Always verify a client’s identity
  2. Do not act solely upon an instruction received by email
  3. Carefully review the contents of any client communications
  4. Validate updated bank account information and other details
  5. Do not reveal sensitive information within pre-populated forms
  6. Keep your anti-virus and systems up to date, and back up your data
  7. Use robust passwords for all your systems and devices
  8. Report suspicious activity
  9. Keep on top of the latest security issues
  10. Make someone responsible for cybercrime/fraud preventions

Further advice from the Government to help identify and address potential cyber security risks can be found on the National Cyber Security Centre website.

Peter Gillespie, Head of Information Security and Technology Risk for Fidelity International can be heard discussing how the threat of cyber security is evolving here.

FundsNetwork’s report on the biggest challenges facing financial advisers is available to read here.

For further information, please contact:

Emma Beresford
Fidelity International
0203 986 2004
07730 594806
Ariella Levine
Fidelity International
020 7961 4575

Notes to Editors:

* The research, ‘Business Challenges facing financial advisers,’ surveyed 206 advisers asking them what they consider to be the biggest business obstacles for their industry. Research conducted by NextWealth, December 2018


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About FundsNetwork

FundsNetwork™ is Fidelity International’s adviser platform that provides advisers and their clients with access to a range of investment related services.

Launched in 2000, we have almost 20 years’ experience of helping independent financial advisers run efficient and profitable businesses, while serving the needs of their clients. We are committed to improving client experience at every stage of the advice process, through the development of a platform which offers flexibility and efficiency to support their changing needs.

The system, developed with Bravura Solutions, provides advisers with access to a broad set of product wrappers and investments, as well as enhanced administrative services. These include;

  • Investments – over 5,000 assets from over 200 partners including Fidelity
    • Funds – 3,557 funds (unit trusts, OEICs & SICAVs)
    • Exchange Traded Products – 279 options
    • Investment Trusts – 175 options
    • Shares – the ability to invest in shares from the FTSE100, FTSE250, FTSE All-Share and FTSE AIM 100 and some shares from the ISEQ20 – 1,032 options
  • Pension
  • ISA and Junior ISA
  • Investment Account
  • Pension trustee, Company and Trusts accounts
  • Cash Management Account – allowing clients to hold cash outside of product wrappers
  • International Bond – provided by Canada Life and giving access to platform fund range
  • Tax and trust planning – including Bare Gift Trust, Bare Loan Trust, Discretionary Gift Trust, Excluded Property Trust and Discretionary Loan Trust
  • Evolution and Estate Planning Bonds – provided by Utmost Ltd and giving access to our platform fund range
  • Regular Withdrawal Plan – monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual payments available
  • Model Portfolios and DFMs – advisers can create bespoke portfolios of up to 30 funds and use defined models where discretionary permissions exist