NYDFS Reaches Agreements With 4 Major Banks on New Symphony Chat & Messaging Platform

NYDFS Reaches Agreements With 4 Major Banks on New Symphony Chat & Messaging Platform

Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Bank of New York Mellon Agree to Record-keeping Requirements and Other Protections to Help Ensure Responsible Use of Symphony Chat & Messaging

Symphony Marketing Materials Had Touted “Guaranteed Data Deletion” and Other Features That Could Have Hindered Investigations of Misconduct on Wall Street

The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has reached agreements with Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and Bank of New York Mellon (“the Four Banks”) on record-keeping requirements and other protections to help ensure the banks’ responsible use of the new Symphony Communications LLC (“Symphony”) chat and messaging platform. NYDFS had recently expressed concerns that certain Symphony features, such as its promise of “Guaranteed Data Deletion,” could hinder regulatory investigations on Wall Street.

Anthony J. Albanese, Acting Superintendent of Financial Services, said: “We are pleased that these banks did the right thing by working cooperatively with us to help address our concerns about this new messaging platform. This is a critical issue since chats and other electronic records have provided key evidence in investigations of wrongdoing on Wall Street. It is vital that regulators act to ensure that these records do not fall into a digital black hole.”

Previously, in July 2015 letters to Symphony and the four banks, Acting Superintendent Albanese raised concerns that the use of Symphony – which marketed its services as delivering “Guaranteed Data Deletion” – could hinder regulators’ and prosecutors’ ability to investigate misconduct at banks, such as the recent rate-rigging (i.e., LIBOR) and foreign exchange manipulation scandals conducted in part over instant messaging services.

Under today’s agreements, to help address those concerns:

  • Symphony will retain for seven years a copy of all e-communications sent through its platforms to or from the four banks;
  • The four banks will store duplicate copies of the decryption keys for their messages with independent custodians (i.e., custodians not controlled by the banks).

Symphony was created through a consortium of 14 major banks and financial institutions. The four banks that reached agreements today represent all of the banks within the consortium that NYDFS regulates. NYDFS believes that the requirements included in today’s agreements should apply to all regulated financial institutions using Symphony in the future.

To view a copy of today’s agreements, please visit the following links: