ComplySci Q&A: The “New Normal” After COVID-19

A Conversation with Kyri Yiannakis, Managing Director & Head of EMEA, ComplySci

I recently sat down for an interview to discuss ComplySci’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and our view of a future “new normal” mode of operation within the financial services industry.

This unprecedented moment has challenged us to transform the way we conduct business, from collaborating with team members remotely to supporting our customers in a virtual setting. Throughout it all, ComplySci has remained fully operational and our team continues to provide world-class service. I hope my insights below will help your firm navigate these difficult times. All of us at ComplySci are here to support you—now and in the future.

~ Kyri

What are your thoughts about the short-term operating model for financial services firms as a result of COVID-19? Are there any emerging themes you can report?

We can’t expect a return to normal trading conditions. We are operating in a “new normal” environment, and those that expect a return to old world BAU will soon realise that the same results may simply not be possible.

In my opinion, the most successful firms coming out of this crisis will be those that take a long look at their operations and ask themselves: “What can we change that will allow us to come through this crisis better than before?”

Of course, everyone involved in financial services will be impacted differently, but for me, simply doing more of what we did will not lead to future success. In this recovery, change will be inevitable

I’ve read much about the recovery from the 2008 credit crisis and the overriding theme I picked up following those events was that firms who continued value-add activities (such as M&A’s), even in the darkest of times, emerged as stronger operations.

What part are the Regulators playing in the COVID-19 crisis?

Many regulators are playing catch up and, in some ways, this is what they need to do right now. They need to let companies know that while they’re not undertaking thematic reviews and other major expected pieces of work, there is still a requirement to continue with compliance and supervisory activities as per BAU.

I believe that organisations of all sizes need to be prepared for when the regulators return to a normal business routine. We already know that many regulators are using RegTech software, AI, and machine learning to build a picture of compliance across the industry, learning from previous breaches and issues and developing a playbook for their own future interventions.

Every organisation needs to ask themselves how they’re maintaining records now, how they’re reporting issues and incidents and how they’re ensuring their employees remain compliant.

How is ComplySci changing its operating model to ensure business continuity during COVID-19?

Our entire focus has been to support our team and their families by moving everyone to a home location even before the official UK Government lockdown measures were implemented. We ensured that each had a safe environment in which to work and was equipped with technology that mirrors exactly what they will find in our office. Finally, we developed an operating model to ensure our team still feels part of a work community, including a twice-daily briefing, regular social e-meetings, and a requirement to take breaks and log-off at the usual time. I am a firm believer that work mustn’t invade home life at this time.

Our business continuity plan was managed across the organisation, simultaneously deployed by our New York and London operations and coordinated by our People Leadership team.

Our outward approach is to maintain BAU. We realise this is tricky and that many of our employees, existing and potential clients, contractors and vendors will have many more pressing time commitments than ever before. However, we want to make sure everyone knows that we’re there for them, wherever and however we’re needed.

What do you see as the “new normal” as a result of COVID-19?

Apart from the greater emphasis on human interaction, I believe the “new normal” in financial services will centre around technology which delivers access to usable data on any platforms and in any location.

There will be a combination of traditional business continuity planning with technology assets to ensure that employees, leadership and C-level teams can all access exactly the same data, both in and out of the office.

Many firms will have realised over the past month that they’re having to operate blind, postponing reporting or delaying crucial tasks because they simply can’t access systems, files or servers where information is processed. Every organisation needs to consider a “new normal” where technology seamlessly integrates within their compliance and reporting routine, where information is displayed intuitively, where issues are flagged and approvals managed in real-time.

When do you think recovery will begin?

In Q3 we imagine that some sort of reality will return and that as we enter into Q4, there will be pent-up market demand and an understanding that we will need to get things moving again for the benefit of all in society.

Of course, there are going to be risks emerging throughout the course of the year. What happens if there are multiple peaks in COVID-19 transmission, or if lockdowns need to be reinforced or reintroduced?

“My advice is for all businesses to plan for the worst but hope for the best and to continue ploughing ahead as much as possible. Maintaining productivity, ensuring investment in people, and remaining alert to external threats will provide the best possible foundations for recovery, whenever it comes.”

In all this turmoil, what are you seeing that makes you feel positive about the future?

For me, the human aspects of this crisis have been heart-warming. In the face of incredible adversity, the resourcefulness of people is amazing.

It’s so apparent that we need to support each other during these difficult times. Whether it’s an investor reaching out to a CFO or leadership teams understanding the human side of their operations, the need to understand and support is happening at all levels in the organisation and it’s inspiring to see.

We look forward to supporting your company. Reach out to one of our teams to find out more.