If you say they're going to the trash bin, you could be running a big risk.
Email is no Different than A Handwritten NoteIf you sent a client a handwritten note that instructed them to do something or indicated delivery of information concerning their transaction, you would likely keep a copy in your file. It's surprising how many don't do that with an email of the same information.
Consult your brokerage's attorney, and you'll likely here that "If it's in writing of any form, it's important enough to keep." You should be filing a copy of every received and sent email for a transaction, no matter to whom it was addressed or sent by. It's not that difficult to print one and place it in the file.
An Email Record Could Save Your Bacon LaterBy requesting a notification of receipt or of being read, you can have a return email that indicates the recipient received your communication. Some prefer to do it in a less formal way by asking in the email something like "Fred, this is important and I don't want to drop the ball. Would you reply to this email and let me know you got it and were able to open the attachment and read the document?"
Fred's reply email is confirmation of the delivery of the information.
Using an Internet Faxing Service to Receive Faxes Via EmailAs faxing of documents is still greatly popular, you can utilize an internet faxing service that will deliver your faxes as an attachment to an email. This gives you an added delivery tracking mechanism, as the cover page indicates the date and time that it was transmitted to you.
If you also use the service for outgoing faxes, you can elect to get a confirming email of when the fax was received successfully at the other end and how many pages they received. Again, all this would be printed and placed in the file for future reference.
You May Delete It - Your Client May NotRemember that there are at least two parties involved in every email transmittal. A little paranoia goes a long way toward risk reduction, so many would find it scary for someone else to have more documentation of events in their file than the agent or broker.
Digital Transaction Email Storage to CD or DVDMore and more brokers are also saving document copies digitally, with some having a CD ROM or DVD placed in the file with the paper copies.
If you can track down the folder where your MS Outlook saves emails, you could save them to a CD. But what if backward compatibility issues keep you from opening those emails in the future? The best way is to save them in Acrobat .pdf format. PDF stands for portable document format and is readable by almost all computers. The full Adobe Acrobat software will convert an entire Outlook folder of emails into a document with the emails sortable by sender or by date.
Now It's the Law - The Federal Government Requires Email ArchivingIn December of 2006, the federal government announced that the Supreme Court had approved their new discovery rules in federal litigation. Your company is now required to maintain all electronic records, including email.
In the pre-trial discovery, it will be required that both sides sharing information will also share electronic documents. An example situation even indicated that a company might be accused of "virtual shredding" of documents if they deleted them prior or if a backup is overwritten, thus deleting them.
Adobe Acrobat offers virtual archiving of emails directly from Outlook folders. Check the link.