On 27 March:
- FCA restated its expectation that firms have in place tested contingency plans to deal with major events and that the plans have been tested. In ensuring this, FCA and the BoE will actively monitor firms’ 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. Firms are also reminded to take all reasonable steps to meet the regulatory obligations which are in place to protect their consumers and maintain market integrity. For example, if a firm has to close a call centre – requiring staff to work from other locations (including their homes) – the firm should establish appropriate systems and controls to ensure it maintains appropriate records, including call recordings if required;
- updated its advice on key workers and the SMCR, stressing that each firm’s designated Senior Manager or equivalent person must identify the key workers – who are essential to support functions which are themselves essential to the real economy or financial stability. But even these workers must work from home if they are able to do so. FCA has stated it expects the total number of these workers to be far smaller than the number of workers needed to ensure all a firm’s business activities can carry on as usual. FCA moreover stresses that it expects firms to consider stopping services or activities that cannot be carried on from home and has listed among staff it would expect to be able to work from home as financial advisers, traders, business support staff and those not involved in essential activities such as CMCs and those selling non-essential goods and credit; and
- supported CMA’s guidance on business co-operation, stating that competition law must not impede firms from working together to provide essential services to customers at this time, while stressing neither FCA nor the PSR will tolerate conduct that seeks to exploit the situation or harm customers.