Finance hub unprepared for London 2012 Olympic Games disruption

The City’s global financial centre could be severely disrupted through gridlock during this summer’s London 2012 Olympic Games

London’s global finance centre could prove unprepared for disruption during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Research revealed many companies are reluctant to invest in contingency plans in case they are not required. 

There is a perception from heads of businesses that much of the spending to cope with the Millennium Bug (Y2K date bug) was unnecessary.

The research, conducted by trading technology supplier IPC Systems, reveals 70% of investment bank staff believe the City is unprepared for the disruption.

Half of those questioned was unaware of any business continuity plans at their company.

But 50% of brokers fear temporary market disruptions resulting from workers caught in gridlock. One in five are concerned it could even spell the end for some City institutions.

“It is telling that even within the City, there are major variations across different types of firm when it comes to expected impact of the Olympics and preparation levels,” said Simon Jones, senior product marketing manager at IPC.

Asset management companies are the most prepared, with 76% declaring they have a plan, compared with only 17% of proprietary traders who say they are ready with a back-up solution.

“It is perhaps not surprising that anticipation and preparedness come hand in hand” said Jones, “though proprietary traders seem not to recognise the potential for disruption. 

"It is possible some companies are still suffering from a Millennium Bug hangover and are reluctant to invest in contingency plans in case they are not required.”

According to the research, conducted at the recent TradeTech event in London, the differences in levels of flexibility between the front and back office staff could also be problematic for many banks. 

“While many banks are being encouraged to allow staff to work from home, this could result in back-office support effectively being cut off from the traders who, for regulatory and compliance reasons, will generally have to remain based in the office,” said the research report.

Half of businesses expect back-office trade support workers to be able to work from home. But without the right technology in place, problems are likely.

“Advanced complex financial instruments, increased government regulations and exponential increases in data are driving more elaborate trade workflows, which include more people and functional groups across more geographies, and the implications of being unable to connect with risk analysts early enough in the trade lifecycle are significant”, said Jones.

Jones said access to a Blackberry does not equal a reliable communications plan: “This comes back to the debate around allowing versus enabling remote working. Compliance and transparency requirements mean that effective collaboration cannot be compromised, whether trading teams are in their normal workspace or a remote location. 

"Financial services companies in London must be prepared to enable effective remote teams. 

"The stakes are too high for traders to gamble with unnecessary risk.”

 

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