the evolution of mobile recording in the UK

On November 14, 2011, the UK Financial Services Regulatory body (the FSA) removed an exception for mobile devices within the requirement to record trading activities over the phone. At the time there was an element of firms leaving the implementation of mobile phone recording until the last minute, as well as, or maybe because of, some uncertainties of the first generation of mobile phone recording technologies (see “Tide turns for no man”).

Immediately post-November 14 there was a mixed feeling amongst the affected firms, with some being compliant and others finding that their chosen solutions were unworkable. So given the state of play at that time, I thought it was interesting to revisit the situation 4 months on from the live date.

This has certainly been a lively period of discussion within the market, with a selection of firms working with the FSA and even obtaining a grace period in some cases whilst they attempted to get their solutions more up to full compliance.

The biggest challenge of the first generation handset based solutions has been that the design relies on setting up a second (conference) call to facilitate recording. Clearly this creates a potential overhead and a delay in setting up the call in the first place, with varying results from different mobile network carriers and software used on the handsets. The net result being that although working fine for some, the slow connection times encountered for others has proved to be unworkable.

So what next? As these are first generation solutions, there is probably scope to review, revise and improve the software and design used, but will this be enough?

Perhaps an obvious alternative would be to move to a carrier based solution, basically recording the communication traffic (voice and SMS) as it passes through the carrier’s network. Maybe this was not considered so seriously at the time, because mobile recording for traders was seen as a relatively low volume specialist requirement for a subset of the firm’s mobile phone community. Additionally, initial trails and proof of concept were more focused on the handset route, which was felt to be sufficient at the time.

For those firms still struggling to make their current solutions workable and compliant, it looks like there is a growing interest in carrier based mobile recording. This approach also has other benefits, such as:

  • it is handset agnostic (even allowing ‘mix and match’ of handsets to meet individual’s preferences),
  • is more secure, as it is impossible to bypass,
  • could be seen as easier to administer financially, as mobile recording is provided as a service option to the selected users mobile phone contract

So more of an evolutionary path to mobile recording in the UK in the end, however, what is certain is that the world’s regulatory bodies are going to persist with their drive for greater visibility and surveillance of market activities. Subsequently, technologists will need to heed lessons learnt; as such requirements become more widespread.


photo © Suprijono Suharjoto -

Nicolas Jacquey
Paul Metcalfe

Currently Head of Voice Trading Solutions with Orange Business, Paul has been involved in the management, design, delivery and support of technology within the financial services industry for more than 25 years. His current role has specific focus on voice, multi-media and unified communication, as well as voice recording and regulatory compliance. Prior to Orange Paul has held technology leadership positions within both financial institutions and supplier environments, including head of professional services within leading hardware and software vendors, Service Delivery Director for a City based European banking group and a founder member of a City of London based management consultancy firm.