Having a robust and automated BCP plan is critical to the post-pandemic DDQ process with Investors. Learn how FinServ has provided this critical service to their clients.
As the world slowly returns to a “new” normal for operational working practices, many funds are reviewing their existing business continuity plans (BCPs) and analyzing how to make them more robust and relevant given lessons learned from the global pandemic.
While many funds moved their technology to cloud-based solutions long before the pandemic began, others still have onsite servers and physical files that constitute a potentially serious business risk, particularly considering the changes (and disruption) to working practices over the past 18 months.
Many alternative funds, including hedge funds and private equity firms, managed to make a timely switch to remote working however many others continue to struggle to implement systems that satisfy their needs while balancing the mistrust of cloud-based environments by some executive team members. Even those that have already made changes will want to look more closely at exactly what systems they are using and if there are better, more effective, and efficient solutions that can be implemented.
Before making any modifications or implementing new business continuity plans, funds should consider several key aspects ranging from calling trees to automating vendor risk analysis. Potential unknowns could disrupt any workplace and its technological solutions. Plans should be formal, detailed, and comprehensive, and account for a variety of different scenarios.
Having a robust continuity plan is essential, particularly as existing, and new investors will look at this closely before making allocation decisions. They will want to see meticulous plans that give them the confidence they need to put (or keep) money into funds.
No business can future proof itself entirely or plan for black swan events, but it can think about what a new risk or potential disrupter of the future may be. Another pandemic cannot be ruled out, and serious climate events (wildfires, flash flooding, extreme weather, for example) and other unforeseen risks, including political risk, should be factored in.
For example, how robust are communications if there is no mobile network available? What are the alternatives if mobile phone networks are not working? For those working at home, what systems do they need, including equipment and technology, to ensure they can work remotely no matter what the problem? What happens if Wi-Fi stops working or secure networks can no longer be accessed?
Funds also need to look at their service providers and vendors and ensure their vendors’ BCP’s are at the same standard as well as consider how potential disruption to services or systems, whatever the emergency and for varying lengths of time, could be mitigated.
Throughout the pandemic, FinServ has helped clients assess current vendor agreements. A worrying number did not meet the level of detail or required response times firms should reasonably expect – or thought they had agreed on – from providers.
These are real threats to business continuity and performance. For example, quantitative trading funds need a contingency plan in case their trading platforms go down. Can present vendors guarantee little or no disruption to all or only some trades? How quickly can systems be back online or moved to alternative sites? What are the potential costs to the fund?
Enterprise document management systems such as SharePoint Online are far more effective than using the quite common and outdated construct of Network folders. However, relying heavily on document sharing programs such as SharePoint could also be a problem if there is disruption due to remote work. Are agreements in place specifying how long before systems are back online? Are there other, secondary programs that can be used? Does everyone know what to do if disaster strikes and what the alternatives are?
Even smaller scale problems could be a serious disruption to a business. If a key employee is unable to work, who is capable or next in line to handle their duties? Does the replacement employee have the training, permissions, and access needed to continue the work, and while they are being a substitute, who is going to do their work?
Potential Solutions for Alternative Investment Firms
FinServ Consulting has helped many alternative investment firms build well-thought-out and fully documented business continuity plans. Some of the areas in which continuity plans should address vendor issues are reassessing vendor agreements and identifying and prioritizing vendors in order of the most critical to the least.
FinServ Consulting can also demine the types of guarantees needed to maintain business continuity, ensure vendors provide those guarantees and review contracts on a regular basis to ensure their own business continuity plans are strong enough not to let you down.
Continuity plans are also needed for employees. FinServ can help identify the priority roles and responsibilities within the firm and create a plan of succession if anyone at any level is unable to work, whatever the reason and length of time. It can help ensure all employees will have the permissions and access needed to take on different or more responsibilities if needed.
To bring this all together, FinServ can also design and implement a communications plan that will ensure everyone is informed and briefed sufficiently on what is happening and to whom whatever the type of disruption.
A vendor management system can play an important role in helping an alternative investment firm with creating and managing a business continuity plan more effectively and efficiently.
To learn more about how FinServ Consulting can help your firm develop and implement a business continuity plan, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (646) 603-3799.
About FinServ Consulting
FinServ Consulting is an independent experienced provider of business consulting, systems development, and integration services to alternative asset managers, global banks and their service providers. Founded in 2005, FinServ delivers customized world-class business and IT consulting services for the front, middle and back office, providing managers with optimal and first-class operating environments to support all investment styles and future asset growth. The FinServ team brings a wealth of experience from working with the largest and most complex asset management firms and global banks in the world.