Security is crucial for banks, accounting institutions, credit unions and wealth management firms. These types of organizations require their clients’ trust, which can erode during a prolonged crisis or poorly executed emergency response. Financial institutions must have business continuity plans and systems in place to protect their assets and operations during any type of crisis.
From a simple network outage to a severe weather event, fire or cyberattack, emergency situations can quickly threaten personnel and financial assets. The longer it takes for a financial institution to respond to a crisis and return to normal operations, the higher the risk of monetary loss and reputation damage.
What does business continuity mean?
Essentially, business continuity means maintaining essential functions during and after an emergency or disruption. For example, if there is an unplanned network outage, does a bank have processes and infrastructure in place to keep critical systems running and secure until the outage is resolved?
To develop business continuity, financial institutions must assess the likely threats to their operations and build response and recovery plans for each situation. Those plans should be frequently reviewed, tested and updated to align with current threats. Business continuity is so important for financial services organizations that the U.S. government provides guidelines for these institutions to follow.
Threats to financial services companies
Unplanned outages, cyberattacks and severe weather are just a few of the crises that financial institutions must prepare for. For example, banks must also create response and business continuity plans for robberies and active assailant attacks.
Financial institutions with multiple branches must recognize how a crisis in one location affects people and assets in all other locations. For example, a localized network outage or cybersecurity breach may trigger issues in various other locations, putting all of an organization’s financial assets in jeopardy.
Creating an effective business continuity plan
Before you can develop a comprehensive set of business continuity plans, you must assess the threats to your financial organization.
Different crises present unique threats to financial services institutions. For example, a fire or severe weather event may harm local infrastructure and require employees to shelter in place. Electrical and internet grids may lose service, and building security systems may go down. There may be other potential consequences as well, which managers and administrators must identify.
However, the potential effects of a robbery or active shooter situation may be different. Employees may experience physical and/or psychological harm that prevents them from returning to work for long periods of time. Managers must acknowledge those risks and ensure that employees have access to immediate and long-term medical care and mental health resources. Additionally, there must be a backup plan to augment staffing as necessary to keep critical operations going.
These are just a few examples of the potential consequences financial institutions can face in emergencies. Managers must consider all potential risks to their organizations and update that list frequently as new threats emerge. Risk assessment exercises must include all potential impacts, including the financial cost of downtime and the potential legal issues that may follow a data breach.
It’s not possible to prevent all crises from occurring. However, proper planning can help reduce the immediate and long-term consequences of an emergency. For example, creating a dedicated backup network can minimize the effects of an unplanned outage.
Likewise, giving employees the tools to report a crisis as quickly as possible can improve response times and reduce losses. Mobile-based communication tools ensure that anyone can report an event, whether it’s an in-person threat at a branch or a potential network issue on a remote worker’s laptop.
Some potential threats may be mitigated entirely with increased situational awareness. For example, a text-based tipping tool can make it easy for any employee to report a potential threat, such as a suspicious package or a concerning behavioral pattern. An early alert may initiate a fast response that prevents a crisis from occurring.
Develop a response plan
A fast, coordinated response can minimize the effects of a crisis. As such, incident managers and administrators should prepare a comprehensive emergency response plan for each potential crisis. Here are some of the crucial elements of a response plan:
- Notify affected individuals of the event
- Provide response instructions (e.g., shelter in place, log off the network)
- Identify critical tasks and assign them
- Alert local authorities and provide them with crucial information (e.g., floor plans)
Every member of the organization should know who to contact in an emergency. Additionally, managers should have plans in place in case key personnel are unavailable (e.g., backup administrators). Incident managers should ensure that emergency plan documentation is securely stored online and accessible by designated personnel from anywhere.
Support quick recovery
Finally, create a plan to return to normal operations as quickly as possible. By maintaining communication with employees throughout an event, managers can assess their statuses and understand when they are ready to return to work.
Additionally, recovery plans can include a framework for managing operations from a temporary location or another branch. Every response and recovery plan should be tested regularly and analyzed to verify efficacy and compliance with relevant laws.
Improve Business Continuity With Help From Rave Mobile Safety
Financial services corporations have a unique monetary responsibility to their shareholders and clients. As such, they must continually assess risks and develop effective strategies to maintain critical operations during a crisis situation. A comprehensive business continuity plan also includes strategies for returning to standard operations as soon as possible.
Communications play a vital role in business continuity for financial institutions and corporations in every industry. During a system outage or cyberattack, administrators must be able to connect with employees in all locations. Mass notifications can inform targeted groups of the network status and provide timely instructions for on- and off-site employees.
Banks and other financial institutions face physical threats as well: fires, severe weather events and active shooter situations. In these situations, business continuity relies on coordinated emergency response. Incident collaboration tools help administrators assign and track internal response tasks while also coordinating with 9-1-1 and first responders.
At Rave Mobile Safety, a Motorola Solutions company, we understand the unique threats that financial services corporations face. Our critical communication solutions and incident management tools help banks and other financial institutions prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. We offer prebuilt solutions and completely customizable options. To learn more, contact our team.