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Dec 12, 2005 12:28 pm

Just wondering, does anyone instant message with clients?  Do you
offer it as a way for clients to contact you throughout the day? 
I had a client who moved to Europe for a year and wanted to handle our
communication via email and instant messaging because of the time

Just wondering if any firms allow it and whether any clients prefer it.

Dec 12, 2005 1:22 pm

I use IM intra office.  Most compliance will not permit IM with clients since you have to save ALL the text as correspondence.

Dec 12, 2005 1:48 pm

Also, when you sign up for MS Messenger, there is some text about not using IM for business, although I doubt that Microsoft is devoting legions of employees to policing this…

Dec 12, 2005 3:19 pm

Did you SERIOUSLY read the "User Agreement" when you got Instant Messenger????

Do you read mutual fund prospectuses for fun too?? 

I think I'll stick to Maxim.

Dec 12, 2005 3:53 pm

In addition to the requirements to retain electronic communications, you have some major security issues. Unless you use encryption software (your client needs it as well) IM is not secure, email is not secure.

Any one with the right permissions on any server that passes your email or IM can read your correspondence. Do you really want to be discussing your client's affairs on what amounts to a bulletin board?

If you do want to handle communications this way, your Compliance Officer is going to have to sign off, you'll need some heavy weight encryption software (try PGP), and a bulletproof way of storing all of your correspondence.

I'm not saying impossible, but it isn't going to be easy.

Dec 12, 2005 5:06 pm


Did you SERIOUSLY read the "User Agreement" when you got Instant Messenger????

Do you read mutual fund prospectuses for fun too?? 

I think I'll stick to Maxim.


Did you SERIOUSLY think I did?!!! I just happened to catch that phrase as I was scrolling down to the "accept" button.  At the same time, even though I don't think Microsoft takes the time to monitor your conversations, as was referenced earlier, I'll bet they COULD, if they wanted to...

...and no, I don't read prospectuses for fun...print is too small...

Dec 12, 2005 8:39 pm

Get a blackberry and use your office email.  This is nice.

Dec 13, 2005 9:27 am


Blackberry is only a partial solution. Traffic is secure between your
hand held and your corporate mail or IM server. Once the traffic is in
the wild, that is, on its way to the client’s mailbox, it is unsecured
and easily available.


IM traffic is not limited to the servers of the issuer of the IM
software. It passes through whatever servers the network routers deem
to be the right path.

If the network decides that the best path (fastest, least traffic) for
your email or IM from LA to Boston routes it through servers located in
Uzbekistan and Nigeria, then that’s where it’s going.

Think about that next time you’re sending email to a client.

P.S. don’t even get me started on how easy it is to spoof your email
address so that your client thinks an email from me is an email from
you or vice versa! Think how much damage that could do if you get into
the practice of communicating all things via email!

Dec 13, 2005 11:00 am

I don’t use IMs just because of compliance problems and the fact that I
wouldn’t want to be interupted so easily by any client with a wish to
discuss the game last night or why IBM went down $.25.

But as for email, it is sufficiently safe statistically.  Yes it
can be hacked and yes someone could read it that isn’t supposed
to.  But considering the vast amount of emails bouncing around the
world, it is statistically very safe.  If you are worried about
such activity, are you willing to allow clients to fax in forms
/data  or discuss information over the phone?  Phone calls
can be tapped or intercepted easier and with more precision that an

I have a client who runs the tech division for a rather sophisticated
cable company.  We discussed this because I had concerns and he
informed me that unless you have a multi-million dollar system and
complete access to protected networks, catching a particular email is
like catching one particular fish in the ocean, statistically
impossible.  But to tap a phone line takes about $25 and less than
30 minutes of access to a building.  If you want to catch
financial data, which would you rather invest your time doing? 

I don’t send SSNs or bank account info over email but I have absolutely
no problem doing it over the phone or via fax.  Probably a huge
mistake but something that can’t be avoided if I want to survive.