Break Away From The Pack

Protecting your proprietary data is key when terminating an employee

| May 18, 2021 | Employment Matters |

If you’re just starting a financial advisory firm, the last thing on your mind is likely what to do if you have to terminate an employee. However, that day will come sooner or later, and you need to be prepared.

In this industry, one of your most crucial responsibilities is protecting client and proprietary data. Under no circumstances should a former employee be able to access your network. You could end up facing fines, lawsuits and irreversible damage to your reputation.

You may not have your own information technology (IT) department and information security specialists. You may have outsourced these responsibilities to an outside provider. Regardless, you should have a plan in place for revoking access and protecting data when an employee leaves your company under any circumstances. Let’s look at a few key things to keep in mind when terminating an employee.

Start your data protection before the termination

Sometimes the decision to terminate an employee has to be made immediately because they’ve done something egregious. In other cases, that decision comes after weeks or months of poor performance or other issues. 

No matter how much or little time you have, notify your IT professionals so that they can revoke the employee’s access to proprietary information and systems. That may need to be done gradually if you don’t want the employee to suspect their impending termination. You also need to take steps to save any emails, texts, stored documents and other data before the employee can delete it.

Recover the employee’s devices

While the termination meeting is taking place, the employee’s internal access to all company data needs to be revoked. You also need to retrieve any company-issued laptops, phones, tablets and other devices as soon as possible, whether they’re in the office or elsewhere.

An employee can’t take client information with them without your permission. Your clients signed contracts with your company, and their information belongs to your company.

Professional guidance is key

It’s always best to consult with information security, human resources and legal professionals when you develop procedures for employee termination. Part of those procedures should be documenting all steps you take to protect your proprietary data. 

That can help you if you were to face litigation from a client whose information was misused. If you’re in that position or if you simply need some guidance, an experienced attorney can help.