“Banking and capital markets firms around the world are mobilising and taking steps to minimise Covid-19’s effects on day-to-day operations,” observed Deloitte on 16 March, before many of the developed economy lockdowns had started.5
Deutsche Bank was one of many banks that have been continually testing business continuity plans – and these include split work sites, working from home arrangements and rewriting travel policies. The Bank, along with its peers, has put in place health and safety measures, including those addressing potential mental health risks.
“We’re working in exceptional times and people understand that there needs to be a level of understanding and flexibility around that, both from a client and bank perspective,” said Head of Fixed Income and Currency Operations Stephen Bell once lockdown was underway. “As our physical offices close, our virtual channels become more important.”
How can all this be done with so many of the back and middle office teams that make these happen now working from home with no diminution in fulfilment?
A pandemic is very different from a terrorist attack you cannot bring people together physically “When you go back to 9/11, the focus there was getting people into in a disaster recovery site and keeping them there until everything came back online. This time, we have hardly anyone in the disaster recovery site and everyone is at home,” reflects Bill Mott, Deutsche Bank’s Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Bank & Branch Operations.
Mott continues, “So you can see the inflection point where technology is meeting up with how people want to work. This disaster is pushing us to move two to five years faster than the industry would have done if this had not happened. What will the world look like when we all get back to normal? Normal won’t be the same as it was before.”
He reports that as the Covid-19 crisis worsened and global lockdowns began to drive market volatility, Deutsche Bank Corporate Bank saw significant spikes in transaction volumes across multiple products; some by as much as 300% above normal for a single day. “These challenges were managed via increased time worked by employees, by shifting employees from non-line roles into essential support, by cross-product sharing of resources, as well as support from the business as they helped manage client expectations.”
While most groups have moved to a ‘work-from-home’ model, this, adds Mott, “isn’t an option for our staff in the Vault or Document Custody businesses due to the physical nature of the work”.
He goes on to explain how legal requirements and service level agreements with clients meant that around 15,000 documents and 200 boxes were received each day by employees. “To support these teams, the warehouse was divided into zones where employees were assigned to maintain proper distancing from others. In some cases, enhanced digital technologies and workflows have been implemented to allow for more employees to work from home.”