The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused worldwide healthcare concerns and economic adversities to individuals, communities and business organizations. Global lockdowns have led to a significant operational crisis in retail, manufacturing, healthcare, auto, IT, travel and all the other sectors. With both the consumers as well as the businesses facing substantial loss in income, banks and other financial institutions have a pivotal role to play in helping the world deal with the current fiscal predicament. They can help businesses to stay afloat and maintain continuity, through strategized crisis management policies.
As things progress, we can expect most of the policy and regulations modifications to remain unchanged in the post-pandemic future. It is the perfect time for organizations to look into their existing norms and change where it is needed and make the system robust enough to face such dilemmas in the future.
Coming back to the pandemic at present, we have noted a few ways that financial institutions can address the situation through crisis management and prepare themselves for the long-term consequences by implementing preventive measures.
Banks and Financial Institutions: Immediate Areas of Concern and Action Plan
After sustaining the initial shock, most companies at present are moving ahead with their continuity plans. However, the fast-changing and indefinite variables of the COVID-19 virus, makes it hard to perceive the entire picture. On an occasion that the lockdown extends, the contingency plans in place might not work out as well as expected.
Since the pandemic has had a deep economic impact, banks and financial institutions can respond to the crisis and offer much-needed support to individuals and businesses alike.
For that, the institutions need to have a robust in-house policy tailored and modified to fit the current situation.
The first step to survival and response is to safeguard the workforce. Only then can an organization remain operational and keep the consumers safe as well. Owing to the lockdowns, most of the institutions have their employees working from home. Others have kept only the major branches functional with the required minimum employees on call, keeping the doors open for fixed hours for customers.
- Employee Health Comes First
Precautionary plans include, extensive awareness promotion and providing employees with sanitizing equipment. Distancing protocols should be strictly followed between employees and they should be made aware of the steps to be taken in case a colleague or someone at home falls sick.
- Enhance Virtual Engagement
With social distancing protocols in place, there is restricted personnel activity within financial institutions. It calls for tweaking the traditional policies and enhancing virtual engagement for both in house operations and customer service. Institutions need to stress on refining the operational capacity and increase scalability to exceed, if not, to keep up with customer expectations. A robust digitized system makes seamless work from home for employees as well.
- Adjusting to Remote Working
It is quite natural for the employees to have issues at the beginning and get a hang on the work from home protocol. Organizations need to be compassionate and considerate of the situation and provide any kind of help needed by the virtual teams. Work from home can generate issues such as insufficient bandwidth, lack of technical support, etc. Employees should not be discouraged from sharing their problems with management.
- Optimize the Digital Payments
With the majority of the population stuck indoors and physical businesses on temporary shutdown, people have switched to ecommerce and digital options. Banking and financial institutions will have to optimize their digital payment options, as both individuals and business organizations demand it. They need to prioritize the policies concerning digital payments, ecommerce applications, and e-wallets for better service.
- Portfolio Modifications
As time goes by, considering the present economic downturn, there will be increased cases of repayment delays and demand for alternatives. It is best to remain prepared by modifying the existing portfolios and products to accommodate the customers.
- Security and Compliance
The financial institutions and banks need to coordinate with their overseas stations regarding the pandemic responses. The clients need to be updated to the current situation and any changes made to the portfolios or NDAs. It is of precedence that a clear protocol is set for all remote employees, as they access sensitive client information and other data.
- Communication is Key
It is not one of the most ideal situations to work and function in, but since there is no other choice, one needs to make the best of the resources and options at disposal. Keeping communications between all the departments is key to the seamless functioning of the organization. Only then, they can provide customers with unhindered banking and financial services. All stakeholders must be aware of the steps that are being taken. It is normal for customers to have queries and confusion. As their financial service provider and guide, one needs to address those directly and on a priority basis.
Planning for the Post Pandemic Future
What happens when the world is cured of COVID-19? Should the banks and financial institutions go back to the traditional ways? Under most likelihood, many of the pandemic policy modifications will continue in the post-pandemic years as well. Its like learning lessons from a health and economic fallout and rectifying the glitches in the system.
- Assuming that COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic to hit humankind, remote working will become the more practical option moving forward. Instead of running large facilities, institutions may prefer minimal physical presence and invest in a robust network to facilitate work from home. One might just get a boost from the upcoming 5G launch.
- Every organization, financial or not should invest in solidifying its IT infrastructure and make use of the new-age technologies for better customer service. It’s less about surviving the next catastrophe, and more about keeping up with the competitors as they sure will ramp up their digital technology support.
Implementation of such responses, amid the COVID-19 crisis, will not only help the banking and financial institutions serve their employees and customers better, but is also, opens up an avenue to explore novel options for better utilization of the latest technologies to enhance the operations for a seamless present and better future.