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News September 18, 2006 Issue

Survey: Many Firms Have Not Yet Automated E-mail Production Process

If you have a nagging feeling that you donít have your e-mail situation fully under control, hereís some good news: Youíre in excellent company.

E-mail storage firm Iron Mountain and e-mail software provider Orchestria recently announced the results of an e-mail survey conducted in July 2006.

Of the 533 securities firms that responded, 60 percent said that they did not have any way of efficiently identifying different types of stored e-mail. In other words, if asked, they could not readily identify external vs. internal e-mails, e-mails sent to or from clients, or e-mails protected by attorney-client privilege.

About the same percentage (64 percent) said that they currently do not have a method of blocking e-mails that violate their firmís corporate policies or requirements.

Despite that, most of the firms said they would be able to meet the deadlines for responding to regulatory requests for electronic records. However, nearly a fifth said they werenít sure if they could.

Most firms (82 percent) receive fewer than 25 requests for electronic records per year, whether externally from regulators or internally from their own human resources, legal, or other departments.

The biggest concern about archiving electronic records was external and regulatory pressures, with 65 percent of respondents listing this as a key issue in 2007. Another concern reported by 47 percent was operational burdens created by e-mail archiving. In contrast, only about a third of the respondents indicated that budget issues, costs of ongoing surveillance, or the firmís existing IT framework are a concern.

Other specific concerns included changing staff attitudes towards e-mails, "differing and inconsistent" regulatory requirements, costs of storage, training, secure disposal, and privacy.