October 28, 2013

Superstorm Sandy rewrote the book on business continuity/disaster recovery in ways that are still being sorted out. Here are 10 recommendations worth considering when assessing your BC planning and priorities:

Ram Nagappan, Pershing
Ram Nagappan, Pershing
1. Up To Date: Keep business continuity plans up to date, test regularly, and turn test results into plan updates. Store plans at an alternative site, ideally in paper form in the event that electronic files cannot be accessed.

2. Communication: Know how you will communicate and coordinate not just internally but also with regulators, exchanges, emergency officials and others.

3. Contact Lists: Update emergency contact lists frequently so staff can be contacted with firm updates.

4. Worst Case Scenario Prepare for widespread lack of telecommunications, transportation, electricity, office space, fuel and water in your BC plan.

5. Powerless Don't presume employees' ability to work from home during a crisis. Know how you will ensure adequate staffing during a crisis.

[For more on how financial firms are reevaluating their business continuity plans, read: Shelter from the Storm: Business Continuity & Rethinking Disaster.]

6. Hidden Talents Keep a record of what skills and licenses employees possess that, while not relevant in their current capacity, may become crucial during an event.

7. Location, Location, Location Give serious consideration to geographic diversity when determining the physical location of alternative sites. Confirm availability of remote locations such as hotels or other office space and consider moving staff to these locations ahead of a crisis.

8. Telecom In Focus Look into contracting with multiple telecommunications carriers to provide a failover to a different carrier to maintain fax, voice mail, and landline and VoIP services.

[For more info on how Wall Street managed to get back on its feet following Sandy, read: Weathering Sandy: How Wall Street Got Through The Hurricane.]

9. Mission Critical Systems Be sure to address how to sustain critical activities, including risk and control functions from multiple alternative locations.

10. Check Your Partners Confirm whether vendors can provide critical services such as clearance and settlement, banking and finance, trading support, fuel, telecommunications, electricity and confirm that other utilities also have adequate BCPs.

About The Author: Ramaswamy (Ram) Nagappan is the Chief Information Officer and a Managing Director for Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company. Mr. Nagappan is also a member of Pershing’s Executive Committee and BNY Mellon’s Operating Committee.

Mr. Nagappan is responsible for the firm's architecture, technology development, infrastructure management and IT operations for Pershing’s NetExchange suite of solutions and Albridge solutions. This includes Pershing's Internet-based account management, clearance, settlement and trading solutions; NetX360 and NetExchange Client Albridge enterprise data management and wealth reporting; computer telephony and mobile technology.