Financial Services Sector Designated an Essential Critical Infrastructure Sector in this Coronavirus Pandemic

Financial services a critical infrastructureFully operational financial services markets are essential to the safety and well-being of the United States and its citizens during the current coronavirus health crisis. As a result, the financial services industry was recently named one of 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors by the Department of Homeland Security. This means a wide range of workers in the financial services industry are deemed to be critical to maintaining the country’s economic stability and are encouraged to maintain their work schedules to the best of their ability.

While financial services certainly includes banks, broker dealers and investment advisors, the Department of Homeland Security also extended coverage to those critical service providers that are required to maintain systems for processing financial transactions, such as payment, clearing and settlement, as well as those activities required to support the financial operations and ongoing compliance of these regulated entities.

Broker dealers play a critical role

It is apparent that all of ACI’s broker dealer and investment advisory clients, as well as ACI itself, qualify as part of the DHS-designated Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce for the financial industry. As U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said last week, “Our industry is needed to ensure that all Americans have access to the safe and efficient financial services that are necessary to conduct their daily lives.”

Of course, everyone can agree that the safety and health of our respective employees, our families and ourselves should be our top priority during this crisis.

Maintaining normal work schedules

ACI, in providing FinOp licensing and regulatory financial reporting and operations, is dedicated to maintaining the same level of dedicated service we had prior to the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. Our employees have all been set up to work efficiently and securely from their homes and we will continue to maintain our standard of quick response to meet client expectations. (For additional information on work from home rulings, see FINRA’s guidance on State “Shelter in Place” and “Stay at Home” Orders.)

As you may be aware, we have long had a policy of assigning multiple contacts for each client as part of our business continuity plan, and this will remain in place during the current situation. We believe having multiple backups reduces the possibility of an interruption of service for our clients. We also believe, as Secretary Mnuchin said, that we have an obligation to the financial services community to maintain a work schedule that does not impede on the continued operations of the industry and, ultimately, customer protection and the integrity of the overall markets.

There remains a significant amount of uncertainty regarding the coronavirus and how it may affect the industry and the country as a whole. ACI Managing Partner, Jay Gettenberg, will continue to coordinate with the FINRA Small Firm Advisory Committee (SFAC) and senior FINRA personnel regarding the best interests of ACI’s clients and small broker dealers as a community. The intention is to advocate for additional extensions and regulatory relief to address the regulatory effects of the epidemic.

ACI will continue to provide updates as we manage together through this challenging time.

We hope everyone is taking proactive and precautionary measures to remain safe and healthy.