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Blog · 27 Apr 2020

Technology and the financial markets during Coronavirus

In the financial markets, coordination and communication are even more important than usual. Since the outbreak, we’ve been helping customers stay connected and maintain their business.

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Managing director for trading and command services, Americas

Speaking about business continuity while highly relevant right now, is overshadowed by the human element of what we’re facing with the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the financial markets, especially unpredictable ones prone to huge swings, coordination and communication are even more important than usual. The legacy technology platforms many are running on, often struggle to support user mobility and remote working. As social distancing came into force and the majority of trading staff needed to work from their homes, IT teams and business heads scrambled to come up with and implement solutions that would allow their teams to continue to communicate effectively with one another, as well as with their customers and counterparties.

The unprecedented impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the duration of lockdowns in the US and other global trading hubs have caught many organisations in the industry off guard and tested their business continuity plans to breaking point.

This has been exacerbated by an underlying reality, that for all of the hype about FinTech, the world’s trading floors, from the biggest to the smallest, are generally built on technology architectures that were designed, and in not a few cases installed, before the birth of children who are now of voting age. This was mainly due to the scale of the technology leap to the cloud, initial concerns about security and resilience of systems originally designed for “best efforts” enterprise usage, and strict regulation.  Before the pandemic the industry was already on the cusp of change. This will now accelerate it.

The current need is to make sure people can continue to do their jobs, providing the vital access and allocation of capital and liquidity where it’s most needed.

For most customers we’re talking to, there are two missions. One is separating their teams and setting them up to either work from home or disaster recovery locations. And to do this at speed without compromising security and whilst honouring regulation.

The second is to have IT partners and customers work together to not get caught out again by legacy infrastructure in the future.

Once the hard work of keeping things going in this moment has been achieved, hopefully, we can more fully embrace technologies that will help keep our capital markets running with less disruption and risk if we face any other unprecedented health and economic crises.

I read an article on Bloomberg recently, that in Asia, where Coronavirus started, financial professionals were using collaboration technologies in ways they hadn’t imagined possible to interact with customers and in many ways improving productivity and collaboration. 

Since the outbreak, we’ve been helping numerous customers stay connected and maintain their business operations. We’ve worked with many in the financial markets overcome their challenges and get their traders up and running as quickly as possible.

For one of our large global trading customers, we were able to provide a solution that has allowed more than 1,000 traders to connect remotely via secure VPN in a matter of hours rather than days. And for customers who’ve already moved onto digital platforms, they found the transition much quicker and smoother. Their trading turrets have a software-based GUI that’s accessible from a tablet device which can be securely connected and recorded via an internet connection. In many cases, we had a lot less engagement with these customers when the outbreak occurred because the capability was already there and being used on a regular basis.

If your organisation is being affected, please get in touch. We can help you design and implement contingency plans and share valuable insight into how BT and other large multinationals are using their technology to stay operational during this time of uncertainty.

Whether it’s practical help or reassurance, we’re here to help.

Christopher Corridon, Head of Global Sales – BT Trading

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