March 4, 2020 / 11:27 AM / a month ago

UK markets watchdog sets out operational rules for coronavirus outbreak

Workers are seen arriving during the morning rush hour at Waterloo Station in London, Britain, March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s markets regulator said it was reviewing how a wide range of companies can continue to operate during a coronavirus outbreak in the country.

“This includes assessments of operational risks, the ability of firms to continue to operate effectively and the steps firms are taking to serve and support their customers,” the Financial Conduct Authority said on Wednesday.

Banks and trading firms face the prospect of staff having to work from home or from alternative sites to minimise the risk of infection, raising questions regarding compliance with rules.

The FCA said it expects firms to take all reasonable steps to still meet their regulatory obligations during an outbreak when it comes to trading securities and other activities.

“For example, we would expect firms to be able to enter orders and transactions promptly into the relevant systems, use recorded lines when trading and give staff access to the compliance support they need,” the FCA said in a statement.

“If firms are able to meet these standards and undertake these activities from backup sites or with staff working from home, we have no objection to this.”

The FCA said it was holding discussions with firms and trade associations on resolving specific issues.

“We want to understand the pressures they are facing and will be continuing our active dialogue with firms, institutions and industry bodies in the coming days and weeks. We will keep our guidance under review as necessary.”

Reporting by Huw Jones, editing by Larry King, Louise Heavens

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