Smarsh vs. Global Relay vs. Microsoft: What should your RIA use for email archiving?

Smarsh vs. Global Relay vs. Microsoft: What should your RIA use for email archiving?

Email archiving is a critical part of compliance for registered investment advisors (RIAs) and financial advisors like you. For one, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires that RIA and financial advisory firms preserve email communications for up to six years. The data must also be kept in a “write once, read many,” or WORM, format that cannot be altered. And if specific email data needs to be produced in an audit, having a system that can index and search content quickly and easily is key.

Therefore, it’s crucial that you choose an email archiving solution that is both reliable and easy to use. In this blog post, we’ll compare three of the most popular email archiving solutions for RIAs and financial advisors and help you decide which is the best for your firm.


Smarsh offers a slew of comprehensive capturing, archiving, eDiscovery, supervision, and surveillance solutions for email, social media, and mobile communications. Smarsh’s Professiona l Archive, in particular, is a platform designed for small teams and businesses that need to archive email and meet compliance requirements.

Smarsh has a few key features that make it a good email archiving solution for RIA and financial advisory firms. First, its email retention policies can be customized to meet regulatory requirements set by the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and other regulatory bodies. Second, email data can be exported in a variety of formats for easy review and analysis. Third, Smarsh integrates with leading email platforms like Microsoft Exchange and Redtail Email, so you can continue using the email client you’re already comfortable with.

Finally, Smarsh continually updates its software to support new communication channels and custom or third-party content, allowing you to implement new technologies and compliance strategies as needed.

Global Relay

Global Relay’s main archiving product is Global Relay Archive, which offers compliance-ready capture, storage, and search for unstructured data like email, instant messages, voice calls, and files. It has supervisory and eDiscovery tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI), as well as real-time analytics and timeline visualizations to help you unearth actionable business insights.

The features that make Global Relay Archive especially useful for RIAs and financial advisors are its embedded workspaces and workflows. These and the archive’s integrated collaboration capabilities allow you to manage email data more efficiently and comply with regulations more smoothly. And with Global Relay’s flexible, AI-enabled tools, you can easily conduct investigations, monitor employee behavior, and uncover hidden risks and opportunities.

Global Relay Archive is designed to meet the strict recordkeeping requirements of the SEC, FINRA, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, among other regulatory organizations. It also integrates with email platforms like Microsoft Exchange and Gmail, as well as popular collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack. These features make it a good email archiving solution for firms that use a variety of email and collaboration tools.


Microsoft’s email archiving solution, Exchange Online Archiving, is a cloud-based, enterprise-class service that helps you meet email retention requirements and discover email data with ease. It offers a variety of features that make email archiving easier, including policy-based retention, in-place holds, and automatic patching. If your firm has deployed Microsoft Exchange Server 2013/2016/2019 or is subscribed to certain Exchange Online or Microsoft 365 plans, then you already have Exchange Online Archiving.

Security and compliance are two of the main reasons RIAs and financial advisors need to archive email, and Microsoft’s archiving solution offers both. It’s designed to meet the email retention requirements of the SEC, FINRA, and other organizations, and it integrates with Microsoft 365 security and compliance solutions like Azure Information Protection and Advanced Threat Protection.

Not only is Microsoft’s archiving solution easy to use and manage, but it’s also compatible with a wide range of email clients and apps. This means it’s also a good choice for firms that use email platforms other than Microsoft Exchange. What’s more, Exchange Online Archiving is constantly updated to support new email technologies and compliance requirements, so you can be sure that your email archiving solution will keep up with the latest changes.

The verdict

So, which email archiving solution is the best for RIAs and financial advisors? All three email archiving solutions discussed here have their own strengths and weaknesses, so the answer to this question depends on your firm’s specific needs and requirements. However, if your firm uses Microsoft products and services extensively, Exchange Online Archiving may be your best bet. It’s easiest to use and manage if you’re already familiar with the Microsoft environment, plus you get to save on email archiving costs since you may already have a subscription to the service.

It will do you good to carefully assess your email archiving needs or ask for expert advice before making a decision.

Our specialists at RIA WorkSpace can help you learn more about email archiving solutions and find the one that suits your RIA or financial advisory firm the best. Get started by scheduling a consultation with us today.