Banks aim to keep trading floors open in event of any
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[March 19, 2020] By
Sinead Cruise and Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) - London-based banks plan
to keep trading floors open even in the event of a formal lockdown of
the British capital, betting that their frontline staff will be treated
by authorities as "key workers".
Five global banks told Reuters they currently had no plans to disband
trading and market-making teams working in London's two main financial
districts of the 'Square Mile' and Canary Wharf as well as in suburban
backup sites, although they were equipping traders to cope with a sudden
change in circumstances.
Four said they understood financial sector market makers would be
defined as 'key workers' alongside healthcare professionals and police,
meaning some traders would be granted special permissions to travel to
work and keep markets open in the event of a city-wide shutdown.
"There's no real impact on the traders in our three locations," one of
the sources said, adding that there were no plans for a total closure of
"When [trading teams] were split, we took into account where they lived
anyway, and where necessary we have put them up in hotels. There are
just a handful working from home, but we can up that number if necessary
and the regulator allows."
Credit Suisse <CSGN.S> on Thursday offered an early warning sign of the
potential disruption that new working arrangements could cause, after it
said access to its company network was briefly limited for employees
NOT ENOUGH CLARITY
A second British bank told Reuters it was now in "full-time planning
mode" on how to manage the situation but efforts had been hampered by
the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who had so far resisted calls to
loosen rules governing remote trading, in line with its peers in the
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A broker looks at financial information on computer screens on the
IG Index trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018.
REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo
The FCA on Tuesday did ease its position on trading from home but without giving
much detail on concrete measures.
It said banks should still take all reasonable steps to meet their regulatory
obligations when trading from back up sites, such as continuing to record calls
even if trading from home.
“But we accept that some scenarios may emerge where this is not possible,” the
“We expect firms to consider what steps they could take to mitigate outstanding
risks if they are unable to comply with their obligations to record voice
communications. This could include enhanced monitoring, or retrospective review
once the situation has been resolved,” the FCA said.
Bankers said there was not enough clarity on what is and is not permitted for
traders working from home.
"The FCA just keeps repeating its rules and saying everyone must remain
compliant. Banks can replicate everything in terms of recorded lines, controls
except for the management oversight piece," the source said, pointing to one of
the biggest obstacles to trading remotely.
(Reporting by Sinead Cruise and Lawrence White, additional reporting by Huw
Jones, Clara Denina and Saeed Azhar; Editing by Alexander Smith)
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