Joseph Capablanca, DTCC Executive Director – Relationship Management, Asia Pacific
Crises almost always knock on our doors unannounced. More than just a flu, nobody expected COVID-19 to become a global pandemic – disrupting millions of lives around the world.
While learning to coexist with the first wave of COVID-19, people in Asia had to adjust their lifestyles with precautionary measures to keep the virus from surging further. The annual Lunar New Year in late January 2020 had to be celebrated with social distancing practices in some parts of Asia, without the usual parties that take place during the 15-day celebration. Instead, virtual gatherings were held to exchange new year greetings and connect with relatives and friends.
Connecting and Engaging with Clients
As the spread of the virus worsened, firms providing nonessential services in some countries across Asia had to make the decision of either implementing remote work policies or maintaining a partial workforce on sites.
While it is easy to lose touch with our clients during a crisis, as a firm, we immediately asked ourselves the following questions:
- How can we ensure that our clients’ post-trade operations and regulatory reporting obligations remain unaffected?
- How can our clients continue to leverage our resources and expertise when working from a remote work environment?
- How can we address their changing needs?
- How can we continue to foster a connected, collaborative client-centric culture – albeit remotely?
These questions and more were immediately addressed by our Relationship Management team – reaching out and working closely with our clients to ensure that they are operationally ready for off-premise, distributed operations support.
Operating in the New Normal
Given the quick rate of change and the high degree of uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, firms not only had to grapple with assessing the potential operational risks that may be at stake, but also with navigating an uninterrupted transition to the new normal. Our Relationship Management team was able to provide emergency preparedness and respond to clients that had to move their middle and back office operations to offshore sites in the Philippines, Malaysia and India as part of their pandemic business continuity plan. Limited time to test telecommuting capabilities and lack of purpose-built infrastructure support for remote workers compounded the challenge for some firms in Asia. Leveraging ready-to-use communication tools and digital platforms, the financial community quickly came together to address the evolving situation and enable a business-as usual-environment at remote sites in Asia.
As we continue to embrace new norms in the way we work and communicate, DTCC is prepared and ready to ensure that our clients continue to have access to DTCC’s services – always putting our clients first and advancing financial markets together.
Imagining a Post-Pandemic World
Aside from extraordinary levels of initial short-term volatility in trading across financial markets, many unknowns remain on the ultimate financial impact of COVID-19 on Asia.
Analysts are expecting a long and challenging road to recovery from COVID-19. Aside from likely structural changes in Asian economies, new business models may evolve as capital market firms shift gears in response to new opportunities and demands. Higher levels of automation may be put in place to avoid emerging risks and improve transparency – based on lessons learned from the crisis. This might transform business-as-usual beyond our imagination.