JPMorgan Securities, JPMorgan’s broker-dealer unit, agreed to pay $200 million in fines to two US regulators on Friday over issues involving employees’ “widespread” use of unauthorised communication channels such as WhatsApp.
JPMorgan was fined $125 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission and $75 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. JPMorgan’s spokeswoman declined to comment on the fines.
JPMorgan Securities admitted that from January 2018 to November 2020, its workers discussed professional matters on their personal devices via text messages, WhatsApp, and email, according to an SEC press statement announcing the fines.
JPMorgan workers, “including those at high levels,” communicated via text messages and WhatsApp dating back to at least July 2015, according to the CFTC’s news statement announcing the penalty.
Regulators compel financial firms to preserve a record of employee communications about business operations. Conversations that occur outside of allowed channels, on the other hand, make it impossible for organisations’ compliance teams to do so.
And, while messaging apps like WhatsApp have long been a thorn in the side of Wall Street, the pandemic has only worsened the situation.
Insider spoke with more than a dozen traders, compliance experts, tech providers, and other market participants in November 2020 to discover more about the rise in WhatsApp use, how Wall Street firms are attempting to combat it, and why traders continue to be caught in the crossfire.
The SEC stated on Friday that the use of unlicensed messengers was a concern in the industry that the agency will investigate further. “As a result of the findings in this inquiry, the SEC has launched additional investigations into financial organisations’ record preservation policies,” the commission said in a statement.