Is your RIA’s Internet Usage Policy Working?


The internet is an essential tool for RIA firms. There is no debating that fact. There is some debate however over whether or not the internet makes employees more or less productive. News stories tell us about all the time employees waste on social media sites while they should be working. In fact, does an annual Wasting Time at Work survey and the 2014 results suggest that 89% of us use work hours to do something non-work related, and 26% of those said the internet was the biggest culprit. Yet a study by Pew Research Center says that 92% of working adults do not think that their productivity has been impacted by the internet. The study, Technology’s Impact on Workers also reports that 46% of respondents are aware of a company policy that limits the websites they visit or blocks certain sites entirely.

So you know your RIA firm needs the internet – especially if your employees work outside of the office and need access to the network remotely. But you also want to manage internet use so it does not impact productivity.

That’s where a solid Internet Usage Policy comes in. It’s important that your employees know about the policy and it might be good practice at your firm to encourage employees to help evolve the policy over time. But if you’re just starting out building one or want to review the one you have in place, here is a summary of a few things we encourage our clients to consider for their policy.

Acceptable Use of the Internet

  • Communication between employees and non-employees for business purposes
  • IT staff software downloads for upgrades and patches
  • Vendor websites for product information
  • Referencing regulatory or technical information
  • General work-related research

Prohibited Use of the Internet

  • Any activity associated with data or content that is illegal, pornographic or negatively depicts race, sex or religion
  • Any form of gambling
  • Online shopping
  • Online games, contests or promotions
  • Use of resources for an external business or political enterprise
  • Distribution of proprietary company, client or partner data
  • Accessing or altering web-based company information outside of your scope of work
  • Conduct considered criminal or that could lead to civil liability
  • Conduct that infringes on copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets or patent rights
  • Transmission of proprietary, confidential or sensitive information without proper controls in place
  • Download of shareware or files without authorization

This lists isn’t exhaustive and your language around each of these will need to be formalized for your policy. We post a free example of a more comprehensive Internet Usage Policy on our website that you can use to get started.