2020 is turning out to be the year of the black swan. First the assassination of General Soleimani; now the coronavirus. In the short term at least, it’s the virus that should be absorbing banks’ attention.
“There hasn’t been an infectious disease crisis of this magnitude for over a century,” says Gordon Wu, a Cambridge University and MIT mathematician employed as a ‘catastrophist’ at Risk Management Solutions, which provides risk models for the insurance industry. “There should be about a month to go before this becomes an epidemic in Britain. It would be prudent for banks and other organizations to put in place preparedness plans to deal with the situation now.”
As we reported earlier, banks in Singapore and Hong Kong are already activating contingency plans and encouraging employees to work from home or across different sites. In London and New York, however, although pandemic preparedness plans exist it’s been many years since they were given much of an airing.
“I have stockpiled Tamiflu for organizations in the past,” says Michael Faber, a business continuity specialist in the financial services sector, “but I don’t have it now, and I haven’t heard of other organizations having it either.” Faber says he has pandemic plans ready to go, but that a pandemic wasn’t high on the financial services industry’s list of likely events in 2020: “Other priorities come into play, that’s life.”