March 16, 2020 / 4:20 PM / 19 days ago

UK watchdog says financial firms' coronavirus plans working well

FILE PHOTO: Traders sit at their desks at IG Index in London September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Plans put in place by financial firms to deal with fallout from the coronavirus epidemic are having the intended effect, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday.

Banks have been splitting trading teams across back-up sites to minimise the potential for large numbers of staff to become infected with Covid 19, and some staff are also working from home.

The FCA said it was “actively reviewing” contingency plans of a number of firms it regulates to check on their assessments of operational risks, the ability to continue operating properly, and steps taken to serve and support customers.

“From what we have seen, business continuity plans are working well, and we have welcomed steps that firms are taking to show flexibility in their treatment of customers,” the regulator said in a statement.

The FCA said it wanted to ensure that firms are taking steps to prioritise the welfare of their staff and customers, as well as the functioning of the markets.

Heavy trading in shares has pushed leading stock indexes to multi-year lows as investors fear the economic hit from the epidemic.

The FCA said it was reviewing its own “non-critical” work to decide what can be postponed, and will provide more details shortly.

“One immediate measure is to reduce the number of meetings we hold with firms, allowing them to focus on their response to the situation,” the FCA said.

Firms should take all reasonable steps to meet the regulatory obligations that protect customers and maintain market integrity, the FCA said.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by David Clarke and Jan Harvey

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