On the second and final day of ifa’s Business Strategy Day 2021, a global cybersecurity expert warned of the risks of advice firms’ rapid adoption of technology, while a leading mental health advocate shared her tips for boosting morale in advice practices after a tough year in the industry.
EY senior manager of cybersecurity Sunil D’Souza said as advice firms increasingly adopted time-saving technology to drive efficiency, it was important for business owners to do their due diligence on the security of different tech offerings and what was needed on the business end to maintain that security.
“There is a rapid adoption of new technology, but are we asking [providers] the right questions in terms of who is going to access it, are we doing the right kind of testing to see if the patching is being done properly?,” Mr D’Souza said.
“The other area of concern is phishing - attackers know that advisory firms are a clearing house of everything they need in terms of data and personal information they can easily use for identity theft. There are many different ways they can try and get into that - it could be trying to listen to your conversations with your client, or using mechanisms like phishing emails.”
Mr D’Souza said COVID had exacerbated these issues, with data from cyber security company Malwarebytes indicating that 20 per cent of all attacks in 2020 had come from employees working from home.
He added there were “simple strategies” business owners could deploy to mitigate security risks, including educating staff around what a potential cyber attack looked like and how to use technology tools in a way that did not compromise security.
“One of the key things to start with is cyber awareness. You could have the best technology available to support your business, but if people don’t know how to use it then it’s got no value - you’re spending money to build and maintain that technology and not getting any benefits,” Mr D’Souza said.
“Cyber security is not the responsibility of the security person within your organisation, it’s everyone - that’s fundamental in making sure everyone does their part.”
Spreading positivity in your practice
Following one of the most difficult years for advisers in recent memory, as the COVID crisis combined with a number of major royal commission reforms to put extreme pressure on businesses, EQ Minds managing director Chelsea Pottinger shared some useful tips for staff and practices who may be struggling to keep morale up.
Ms Pottinger recommended firms start their regular staff meetings with a “success of the week”, to tap into a ripple effect of positivity that had been scientifically proven to boost mental health.
“If you take 30 seconds around the virtual office to share a win, what happens is the person sharing that gets oxytocin and dopamine - happy chemicals - their mood will get uplifted and they’ll become happier,” she said.
“30 years of research has shown that there are these things called emotional contagions and they are very real. The way you’re turning up to work, the way you communicate to your friends, your staff, your clients, all these interactions have a direct impact on the other person’s mood by 45 per cent.
“So if you start your meeting with a success of the week, you’ll see this positive ripple go across your team. People will also bring in these amazing successes and share how they did it with the rest of the team, so you’ll get these new ideas across the company.”
Reflecting on her own experience with depression, Ms Pottinger said reflecting on past challenging experiences was also a key tool to build resilience and help adjust mental perceptions about the ability to overcome hard times.
“When it comes to resilience and building up self efficacy, we have this perception about what we can or can’t do,” she said.
“When I suffered severe postnatal depression, my psychiatrist asked me to talk about a tough time I had overcome. My mind reverted back to when I was 16 and all my mates made the Riverina basketball team except me. My coach said if you train with me five days a week you could make the state team, so every morning I trained and I made the team.
“If you survived last year, use that as your anchor point. For me, nothing could be as bad as being in that psychiatric hospital - I know if I can survive that, I can survive anything. That’s how we rebuild ourselves and it’s the process of building grit.”
If this article raises any emotional or psychological issues for you, you can utilise the below resources:
Lifeline, 13 11 14, www.lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service, 1300 659 467, www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
MensLine Australia, 1300 78 99 78, www.mensline.org.au
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