How RIAs keep private data safe with data retention

November 27th, 2020
How RIAs keep private data safe with data retention

Data retention and archiving can be a headache for RIAs. It means more time and effort spent meeting compliance rules. This is on top of fulfilling duties to clients and achieving your other business goals.

Which is why RIAs ought to use tools that not only improve productivity but also allow them to manage and protect important client information easily. According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), RIAs “owe its clients more than mere honesty and good faith alone”. Needless to say, the data tools RIAs use should have a proven track record of privacy and data integrity.

Data backups vs. data retention

Data retention refers to processes that businesses use to define when it is appropriate to delete a piece of data. This is because certain documents — such as corporate bylaws and other legal papers — need to be kept indefinitely, while other documents — such as receipts and invoices — only typically need to be kept for a fiscal year or two.

Data backups, on the other hand, ensure that data is safe should a data retention plan fail. It ensures that the data remains available or “valid” as stated in the data retention plan, even if a business experiences hardware damage, ransomware, and more. So the key to successful data retention is ensuring that data backups are always up to date and available whenever needed.

This means that RIAs should use software that 1) automatically creates backups, 2) protects private information, and 3) allows for easy collection, processing, modification of client data. Your backup solution should offer these two backup types:

  1. Site level backups
    Site level backups are also referred to as auto versioning, and it allows you to store, track, and restore items in lists and files. Versioning can be combined with other settings like checkouts and the like, so as to give you more control over content as well as with restorations of old versions of items and files.
  2. Tenant level backups
    Tenant level backups are Microsoft-side backups that are done every 12 hours and stored for up to 14 days. You can request restorations from these backups.
    Your current Microsoft subscription is a key tool

Fortunately for you, if you have a Microsoft subscription, you likely have data retention tools at your fingertips. You no longer need to turn to a third party for data management options. Microsoft 365 versions E3 and E5 are equipped with data retention policies and labeling features, but if your subscription is neither of the two, worry not: these tools can also be purchased separately.

With your Microsoft subscription, you can do the following with your client data:

  • Label data as records
  • Migrate and manage your specific retention requirements
  • Configure retention and deletion settings
  • Define retention periods for certain events
  • Export information about disposed items
  • Set specific access and edit permissions for users

What is Microsoft Preservation Lock?

Microsoft Preservation Lock archiving tool provides complete data immutability — that is, it protects data from being susceptible to undesired and unauthorized changes. With Preservation Lock, you can be assured that all data within your systems is discoverable, yet unalterable without the proper permissions.

Microsoft Preservation Lock does the following for you:

  • If the data is deleted or modified:
    • A copy of the data will be placed in the Preservation Hold Library
    • Periodic timer jobs will identify which files or folders have expired retention periods
    • Files and folders with expired retention periods will be permanently deleted
  • If the data is not deleted or modified:
    • Data will be moved to the First Stage Recycle Bin upon expiry of its retention period
    • If the Recycle Bin containing said data is emptied, the data will be moved to the Second Stage Recycle Bin
    • The data in the Second Stage Recycle Bin will be permanently deleted after 93


You can use Preservation Lock to protect all forms of incoming, outgoing, and internal data. This includes all email, books and records, meeting requests, faxes, instant messages, voicemails, and more. Furthermore, this tool accommodates Microsoft archiving add-on features, which let you apply compliance features like litigation holds, compliance searches, in-place archiving, mailbox auditing, and more.

RIA Workspace specializes in security, cloud, and managed IT for the RIA industry. Our experts can help you meet your data retention and privacy standards. Contact us today to schedule your assessment.