Case Study: IM Pays Off For Banc of America Securities

Banc of America Securities' corporate and institutional investors wanted to use IM for transactions, yet the company needed to keep track of all IM communications. Enter FaceTime.
Enterprise IM company:
FaceTime Communications

Name of client company:
Banc of America Securities

Client's problem:
Bank of America's Banc of America Securities subsidiary provides investment and risk management services to corporations and institutions. It is ranked sixth among U.S. investment banks with U.S. corporate clients, and its global network of trading centers handles over $80 billion per day in more than 90 currencies.

Banc of America Securities' investors increasingly wanted to use instant messaging (IM) for business and transaction correspondence with their brokers. The securities firm realized that IM was becoming a valuable communications channel with the potential to improve customer service and satisfaction. The problem was that all IM communications, along with e-mail, fax and other electronic correspondence, must comply with SEC auditing and monitoring regulations.

"Our investors are elite clients who have high expectations for the quality of service they get -- particularly their ability to communicate with our trading force," says Chad Lane, Banc of America Securities lead project manager.

FaceTime's IM Auditor

How it works:
IM Auditor provides network-independent, SEC-compliant auditing-regardless of whether Banc of America Securities' clients use an IM solution from AOL, Yahoo, MSN, or Lotus Sametime. IM Auditor is also designed to integrate with Banc of America Securities' existing e-mail compliance systems. FaceTime engineers quickly created custom modules that allowed IM sessions to be handled the same way as e-mail. This compatibility enabled Banc of America Securities to leverage their investment in existing systems.

Another question the company had to answer was in authenticating instant messaging users. IM Auditor's registration module has built-in authentication capabilities that enable public IM network identities to be mapped to corporate identities. Each employee must authenticate to their corporate identity and then choose a buddy name that they plan to use for business purposes. If they don't use this approved buddy name, they are not allowed to use instant messaging.

Banc of America Securities also installed a monitoring disclaimer that automatically loads at the start of any IM session.

Lane credits FaceTime with service above and beyond the call for "an implementation that went off without a hitch." That was two months ago. Since then, IM usage has skyrocketed to over 1,000 daily conversations. And approximately 10 new users are still registering every day. Banc of America Securities currently provides FaceTime engineers with real-world advice that is improving development efforts on future SEC-compliant products.

"Our traders love IM," Lane says. "It's an ideal communication channel for the noisy, hectic environment of the trading floor. Without a doubt, IM has strengthened our trader/client relationships."

Bob Woods is the managing editor of InstantMessagingPlanet, where this article was first published.

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