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The financial services sector is one of the most heavily regulated in the world. In the UK, the industry also contributed £173.6 billion to the economy in 2021, making up 8.3% of the country’s total economic output. This naturally makes information security in the financial services sector a top priority, and it’s crucial for organisations to get it right.

For financial organisations, preventing and responding suitably to security incidents is key. Not doing so can cause significant reputational damage, as well as the impact on clients and partners should a data breach occur or money be successfully stolen. One way to prevent these incidents is by building and maintaining an information security management system (ISMS), which also helps organisations to achieve certifications like ISO 27001 and SOC 2.

Not only does being certified to globally-recognised information security standards boost your organisation’s reputation and help you to align with financial industry regulations – certifications can also be key differentiators when it comes to tendering for new business.

What is ISO 27001 certification?

ISO 27001, also referred to as ISO/IEC 27001:2022, is an information security standard and best practice. The standard is achieved by completing a successful external audit by a certified independent auditor or auditing body, and is recognised globally. It provides a framework that allows your organisation to implement and maintain an ISMS.

An ISMS that is certified to the ISO 27001 standard ensures your organisation meets three key information security credentials: the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your information assets and that of your customers.

An ISMS that is ISO 27001 certified is also at a reduced risk of data breaches and will have policies and procedures in place to respond proactively should a breach be successful. Both of these things can also reduce the cost and damage of a successful breach.

When you achieve ISO 27001 certification for your organisation, it shows your customers and prospective customers that you take information security seriously, and can successfully manage and protect the information you hold.

How does ISO 27001 certification help organisations comply with financial sector regulations?

There are many financial sector regulations in place across the globe, including US-centric regulations like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA or Financial Services Modernization Act). In the EU and UK, organisations are required to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

ISO 27001 and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

As part of the GLBA, organisation are required to inform consumers about data protection measures and how their data is shared. ISO 27001 requires your organisation to document its policies and procedures as well as complete risk assessments for your assets, meaning that you will have this information ready to provide when required.

ISO 27001 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

To be GDPR-compliant, your organisation must implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to address the risks you are faced with, including measures aimed at ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of organisational systems and services. It also requires you to put measures in place to enable data restoration, and regular assessment and evaluation of security measures.

The ISO 27001 risk assessment process efficiently addresses these measures. In undertaking risk assessments, you will identify potential risks to your organisation’s assets (such as data) and how to treat these risks to lower both the likelihood of the risk occurring and impact should it occur.

What are the steps to ISO 27001 certification?

There are six key steps to successful ISO 27001 certification:

  • Step 1: ISMS scoping
  • Step 2: Asset register creation
  • Step 3: Risk assessment and treatment
  • Step 4: Creating policies and procedures
  • Step 5: Creating your Statement of Applicability (SoA)
  • Step 6: Internal audit

Once these steps have been completed and you’ve addressed any findings from the internal audit, you’re ready for your external audit and to become fully ISO 27001 certified!

Learn in more depth about the six steps to ISO 27001 certification in our blog post.

How long does it take to get ISO 27001 certified?

The traditional route to ISO 27001 certification, involving hundreds of spreadsheets and documents for evidence, often takes businesses up to a year to prepare for an external audit and certification.

Businesses using Hicomply can be audit-ready in two to three months using our ISMS scoping tool, automated asset register, task management tool, policy and procedure library and third-party integrations.

Is Hicomply right for your financial services organisation?

If you’re busy completing your organisation’s key information security tasks manually, using Word or Excel or even your email inbox, Hicomply might be the solution you’ve been looking for.

If your policies and procedures constantly need to be updated or you’re struggling to get staff to review them, Hicomply could be for you.

And if you’re struggling to keep a log of your organisation's assets and their risks, or to collect evidence, the Hicomply platform could make certification quicker and easier than ever.

Building a digital ISMS using an auditor-friendly platform designed and consistently updated with auditor suggestions in mind (that’s us!) could be the solution.

Final thought

Team Hicomply has helped hundreds of users on the journey to ISO 27001 compliance, and we work with many organisations in the financial services sector.

Discover the cost of ISO 27001 or book a demo to find out more about how your organisation can achieve ISO 27001 quickly and easily.