Sesame has notified its member firms that all emails containing confidential information must be encrypted and has chosen Origo Unipass Securemail as the preferred software.
From January 1, 2010, all emails sent between Sesame and its members must be encrypted, emails to clients containing confidential information must be encrypted by March 1. All confidential emails to companies must be encrypted by June 1.
Sesame Adviser Forum has been swamped with complaints from IFAs, who say that they and their clients are having trouble downloading and using the software. They say technical support from Sesame is limited.
Advisers say some clients are requesting that emails are not encrypted because they do not want to download the software, but Sesame says this is not an option.
H.R. Independent Financial Services director Tim Harvey says the technology is difficult to install and has not been properly tested.
He says: “The technology is flakey at best and the support from Sesame is poor. I contacted Sesame for help and they referred me to Origo. I have the feeling that we are guinea pigs and the technology has not been properly tested. I have a lot of time for Sesame and they do a lot of good work but I’m very disappointed that they have gone for this without thinking it through and properly testing the system.”
Liberty Bishop Financial Services independent financial adviser Edward Thomson says the program causes Microsoft Word 2007 software to crash and creates problems accessing the secure emails externally.
He says: “When you call Sesame for help they seem to make out as though you are the only IFA having problems, but that’s clearly not the case. Anything to do with IT and Sesame seems to fall down at the first hurdle.”
Other advisers on the forum argue that it is unnecessary to encrypt emails being sent to an account that is already password-protected, when faxes and postal services cannot be secured.
One adviser, who does not want to be named, says: “The feedback we are getting from clients is that they do not want us to encrypt their emails but Sesame will not allow them to opt out. Any confidential information will have to be faxed or posted to them, which seems silly because they are much less secure.”
A Sesame spokesman says data security is a “huge social and regulatory issue” that the industry needs to help tackle.
He says: “The majority of members have successfully installed the free software, but we are sorry if anyone is having difficulties and we will do everything we can to help because it is in everyone’s interests to get this right.”