November 2017 – The Best Offense Is a Good Defense: Fraud and Security Advice

As people manage more aspects of their lives online, the threat of cybercrimes continues to multiply, outpaced only by the financial drain for the clients and firms associated with each successful attack. Though no industry is immune to these threats, financial services carry a special burden to protect their clients, considering a person’s brokerage or retirement account could represent the sum of a lifetime of work. Clients want to feel that their investments are protected and will turn to their brokerage firm for that reassurance. To that end, this report focuses on the content and positioning of security advice that firms offer to their clients.

Catering to prospective clients, all 18 firms covered in this report offer security centers or a dedicated security section on their public sites (Merrill Lynch and Merrill Edge share a security center). Though all firms implore investors to take independent protective measures to ensure the highest level of security, only four offer their clients access to free or discounted security software. Only five firms have addressed recent security issues such as the Equifax breach, and several firms neglect to address the topic of elder financial abuse. Ideally, firms should identify and define methods of fraud, offer tips on how to prevent it and provide actionable advice on how to report it. Firms should also present this content in an engaging format, complete with multimedia and real-life examples to capture the attention of prospects and clients alike, as many remain unaware of the implications of fraud.