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October 24, 2012

Digital Devices Leading to Problems Concerning Employee Layoffs

Once upon a time, when employees were fired or laid off from high-level financial services positions – think investment banking – a couple of company security guards would make sure that person left the building without bringing any client contact information. You didn’t, after all, want an employee taking customers away from the firm, offering to freelance his or her services. This usually involved blocking the employee from taking a Rolodex off a desk.

Nowadays, of course, every business person – let along high-level banking executive – carries his or her contacts in a smartphone, tablet, online contact list or many other digital places. This has presented an extra-large challenge for any company trying to prevent former employees from contacting existing customers. Companies have had to switch tactics.

Image via Shutterstock

Today’s process now involves weeks of trawling through old e-mails and planning software lockdowns both preceding and following the job cuts, according a Reuters article this week. Companies have to make sure they can block access to work systems that employees may be using on their own computers, while occasionally calling in lawyers to ask fired staff to destroy data they may have already downloaded.

It’s just a little more complicated than having a security guard with a thick neck block you from grabbing a Rolodex off your desk.

While this type of conundrum isn’t unique to the financial services industry – most businesses have sensitive customer information, particularly call centers – the value of the information in brokerages is just that much higher. Layoffs in banking have long been a particularly brutal affair, justified by firms because of the sensitive information handled by deal advisers and traders. Recurring incidents of data theft in the financial services industry and other breaches and scandals mean banks will continue to boost their employee-blocking digital security efforts.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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