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Data Privacy and Your Financial Planner

Data privacy week is January 24 – 28, 2022.  Here are some tips to help investors safeguard  personal information when it comes to working with a financial advisor.

2021 was a record year for the number of data breaches publicly reported, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). And while cybercrime is as old as the internet itself, the good news is that more than ever, consumers understand the importance of protecting personal data from exposure to identify theft or malware.

When it comes to working with a financial advisor, your advisor has always had an obligation to safeguard your personal financial information. However, the pandemic’s impact on how much we operate online creates new challenges – including remote and hybrid work – amplifying the importance for investors to be vigilant. 

Ballast Advisors, a financial planning firm with offices in Minnesota and Florida, shares some tips on how to manage personal information and keep it secure when it comes to working with your financial planner.

Have you reviewed an online security checklist with your financial advisor?

Something as simple as unauthorized access to your smartphone could allow someone to get more than your photos – they could gain access to your online investment accounts. Following preventative steps can go a long way toward keeping you and your personal information more secure, helping protect you from identity theft, and maintaining more secure accounts. 

“Ballast Advisors uses an online security checklist and we regularly cover highlights of the checklist with clients during meetings,” says Paul Parnell, Wealth Advisor. 

Your advisor should help you learn best practices, and you should have expectations that they do as well. Steps such as using two-step verification and encryption, keeping technology up to date, and ensuring that you use secure networks when you login to view your financial data are key.

Click Here to download the Ballast Advisors Checklist via Charles Schwab. 

 

Do you understand your financial advisor’s privacy and security policies?

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently heightened focus and priorities on cyber-security. While SEC compliance requires cyber-security measures, you can double down by asking more about your advisor’s privacy/security policies. 

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What policies and procedures do you have that address privacy, confidentiality, and cyber-security?
  • How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your plan? Do you do annual assessments, testing, and monitoring?
  • How do you work with vendors to evaluate things like internet security and help up adapt and strengthen systems annually?
  • Do you have internal training to raise awareness?

 

Are you mindful of how you share sensitive information with your advisory firm? 

One of the top watch-outs working with a financial advisor is how you communicate key data. 

First, it’s important to limit the sharing of sensitive information to only those who need it. There are also custody rules built that protect you.  It’s why your advisor can’t just send money to any account and why they need to have written instructions to send money to your account.

Next, how you share that information is equally important. Do not just email attachments with tax documents, social security numbers or banking information. 

“Your advisor should have a secure method for delivery, and you should only share confidential information through the designated place, like our Secure Vault at Ballast Advisors, or encrypted e-mail,” says Andrea Nease, Vice President of Operations and Compliance.

You should also be mindful of how you make transaction requests. “Don’t make requests over email, and don’t expect them to be honored. Requests should be confirmed verbally, and even if you are so well known that they recognize your voice, the advisor or the service manager will likely ask a couple of questions to verify a client’s identity before they process a transaction request.” adds Nease.

Do you need more resources on data privacy for investors?

Here are a few additional online resources on data privacy best practices for investors, which have tips for online security and cover some measures and things to watch out for:

Fighting back

What to do if you’re a victim of cybercrime.

  • Report suspicious activity to all your financial institutions, including banks, brokerages, credit card companies, and the Social Security Administration, if you suspect your Social Security number has been compromised. To report suspicious activity in your Schwab account, call 800-435-4000.
  • Change the password on all compromised accounts—and any accounts that share those passwords.
  • Report the crime to your local police, whose report may be helpful in recouping any losses, as well as to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  • Request fraud alerts—as well as a credit freeze to prevent further fraud—from all three credit reporting agencies.
  • Remain vigilant by reviewing account statements, scanning your devices for malware, and monitoring your credit reports, possibly with the help of a credit-monitoring service, which can help detect instances of identity theft.

SOURCE: CHARLES SCHWAB

Ballast Advisors is a fee-based financial planning firm.  Our financial advisors serving the Twin Cities and Southwestern Florida can help you reach your retirement and financial goals.  Our offices are located in Woodbury, MN, Arden Hills, MN and Punta Gorda, FL.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice. The third-party material presented is derived from sources Ballast Advisors consider to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Nothing contained herein is an offer to purchase or sell any product. This material is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Ballast Advisors reserve the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.

Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request. BAL-22-01.

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