Remote working is a rising trend in the US RIA industry today. Many financial services and investment management companies are growing or expanding their operations or staff are permanently looking to work from home. Satellite offices are becoming more common, as many businesses have learned that remote and hybrid-office arrangements are productive, cost-effective, and support their growth plans.
The benefits of satellite office arrangements are evident, but before you open the doors, understand that you will need to exercise some preparation, particularly with regard to IT. Here are a few of the most important steps you’ll need to take:
Set up internet provisions ahead of time
This should be one of the first arrangements you make for your satellite office. Without reliable internet from the start, your IT will not be able to properly and speedily deploy all the necessary facets of a remote workspace. Furthermore, having a working internet connection will allow your remote RIAs to hit the ground running. They will be able to accomplish some of their tasks while IT installs and configures other parts of the infrastructure in your new office.
Invest in good, reliable, speedy internet — such as a fiber internet connection. It should help your employees maintain a high level of productivity. If fiber is unavailable in your location, at least make sure that your uploads speeds are higher than 20mbps.
Core focus points you should work on
Before opening your satellite office for regular operations, make sure the following bases are covered:
- Network firewall
A network firewall is critical because filtering cyberthreats right at the very beginning of a network’s life is key to a secure network. Installing a firewall after employees have started using the internet can defeat the purpose of having one, as threats such as worms and Trojans may have already entered your IT system through regular internet traffic.
And for RIAs, internet-based threats can expose sensitive information to the prying eyes of cybercriminals. So before you allow any internet activity, ensure that IT has already set up your network firewall.
- Wireless network
Once a network is in place and secured, you can now make it accessible to your RIAs. A wireless modem or router is essential because the alternative would be physically wiring all your staff’s computers to the network. A Wi-Fi network is preferred over a wired one because it will allow your staff to work wherever in the office they please. Moreover, it will also let them connect their mobile devices to the internet.
When configuring your wireless network, choose a single, unique, case-sensitive name or service set identifier (SSID) to easily identify it. Avoid using the router’s default SSIDs, and don’t give the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands different names. Then, make sure the router authentication and encryption settings are set to WPA3 Personal, or WPA2/WPA3 Transitional or WPA2 Personal (AES) if you are using an older router model. If your router has none of these encryption options, don’t use it as it will offer virtually no protection.
- Laptop pre-configurations
If your office is issuing work laptops to RIAs, it would be wise to preconfigure these devices before handing them out to the users. For instance, your IT provider can join the laptops to the domain, install work-related apps, teleconferencing programs, antivirus software, and more. They’ll also get to configure file syncing, automatic updates and patching, and notifications to suit your organization’s requirements. Not only that, but preconfiguring laptops will also help you keep track of device location and device activity. Furthermore, your IT staff can install tools for remote access to the device, in case of technical problems and the like.
Your IT team should also prepare docking stations for laptops. These stations will ensure that laptops are always fully charged and ready for use should users need to meet at conference rooms or even work out of the office. RIAs should also be provided with at least one computer monitor, given the volume and types of applications they use on a daily basis.
You don’t really need a VPN in the office
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t really need a VPN for your satellite office. A secure local network coupled with secure internet connections and policies are more than enough to protect sensitive data from prying eyes. Even for accessing the main office network or cloud, a VPN isn’t necessary if a secure procedure is followed.
Have remote device management tools
Remote device management tools are an absolute necessity when it comes to satellite offices and remote workers. These tools will allow your main office IT team to respond to technical issues at your satellite offices in a timely manner. Such tools will also let them remotely lock devices and prevent access, should a laptop or smartphone be lost or stolen. You can also have your cloud phone provider add extensions, configure users, and pre-configure devices for you.
Before you open a satellite office, make sure all your RIA technical needs are in order. RIA WorkSpace’s experts can provide you with reliable insight and industry-specific opinion, so that your remote RIAs can hit the ground running. Contact us today for more information.