Preparedness for Additional Hardships During A Pandemic

by C/A Staff

As we in the financial industry have just begun to settle into the new normal of doing business remotely, we have been reminded by recent natural disasters that a pandemic is only one layer of preparedness we must address. As a result of recent events, organizations have taken steps to prepare for the unknowns to come: some institutions may have become overwhelmed and some may have reviewed insurance coverages, emergency funding channels, technological abilities, effects of limiting employee exposure, and more. However, other recent events have reminded us that this is just not enough. You should take the preparedness planning further and safeguard every area of your organization.

In conjunction with the craziness of the new normal due to the pandemic, many banks have also been impacted by natural disasters. This requires our industry to once again reset and ensure our organizations can withstand the potential impact of multiple hardships. The ability to adapt is what has allowed the financial industry to survive through rough times before, and being proactive will assist in making it through not only the pandemic, but whatever may come next.

Remember to include the possibility of additional hardships in your planning and testing even in this already strained environment. Services that may have otherwise been fully staffed and operational may be experiencing shortcomings during the pandemic, and this could adversely affect your continuity of business functions. While the digital age has given the industry the ability to sustain many hardships with off-site backup storage and functional operational capabilities, it is important to note that your IT disaster recovery planning may have been adversely affected and may need reassessment, which is no easy task to accomplish if the need arises.

Other areas to consider are physical and environmental security. When institutions plan for these areas, they traditionally consider one type of event happening, and do not consider multiple hardships at once. The unfortunate reality is that this just isn’t going to be good enough. With increased disaster and pandemic awareness, we as an industry must begin to look at multiprong continuity. Not only could a situation arise where physical locations are affected, but the organization may also have employees who are vital to the communication line that is now disabled due to an illness, or the impact of a disaster. It is for this reason back-up employees should be identified, in case of an issue or one person’s inability to fulfill the necessary duties.

Business continuity planning has been in place for some time and should be tested to ensure operations are sustainable. It has also long been on the regulatory radar and is sure to expand with all that has happened, so that institutions are encouraged to be proactive in addressing additional hardships and their ability to maintain business as usual.

So, in a time where we are experiencing a new normal, take a proactive approach to ensure you have tested your business continuity planning with not only a single-incident, but multi-incident approach. Testing your institution’s ability to continue operations under various circumstances must be your focus. Our industry is vital to the country and we must constantly work to protect and test our capabilities.