Library picture: Kirchberg, 22 January 2020. Photo: Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne
Financial institutions have activated their business continuity plans after the government introduced restrictions and encouraged teleworking to reduce covid-19 transmission.
Here is the latest on selected financial organisations. Delano will keep this page updated.
Aberdeen Standard Investments
“100% of ASI Luxembourg staff have [the] possibility” to telecommute, Dirk Schulze, managing director of Aberdeen Standard Investments in Luxembourg, told Delano on Monday. “On 16 March, 88% of the staff of ASI Lux are teleworking” he said. That meant that only 5 out of 42 staff members were working in its offices, primarily those on the facilities and executive/risk management teams. Schulze said:
“[ASI Luxembourg] staff has been split into two teams, team red / team blue since 12 March 2020 whereas a bi-weekly rotation of teams in the office is in place. Effective 16 March 2020, all are strongly encouraged to work from home, unless business-critical matters require physical presence at our premises.”
This approach has been put in place across the global group. Schulze added:
“As with most financial services companies, a major incident management team is operational within the group and across our region. Regular, at least daily interaction exists, ensuring integration of local developments and guidance whilst delivering a group-aligned approach.”
“In addition, as a precautionary measure, we are restricting visitors to our buildings and are only holding business critical meetings with external guests,” Schulze said. Meetings are being held by teleconference or telephone, when possible. Physical meetings are limited to 25 people. “If a meeting is to go ahead at our premises, your ASI contact will be in touch in advance to ask about your recent travel history.”
A spokesperson for Capital Group said on 16 March that the fund firm had already taken several measures last Monday (9 March), “in an abundance of caution”. The rep stated that: “We’ve suspended all business travel for our associates,” “we’ve asked our associates who can work from home to do so,” “in all our offices, we’ve instituted a no-visitor policy to protect the health of both our clients and associates,” and “we’re adjusting all client meetings to be conducted via phone or video.”
The company said its investment in IT systems “has allowed us to maintain strong continuity of our investment process, trading, investment operations, and all other business practices even as we make further adjustments in light of covid-19.”
Capital Group employs 31 people in Luxembourg.
A spokeswoman told Delano on Monday:
“We’re implementing a split-team policy globally, which will see most staff rotate between our office locations and working from home on a two-week rotation. We’re also restricting travel, face-to-face meetings and attendance at conferences until further notice.”
A Fidelity International rep stated on Monday:
“The health and safety of our employees is our utmost priority. We are following all World Health Organization (WHO) and government guidance in our various locations and have a robust and well-developed business continuity (BCP) plan in place to protect our employees and to ensure we meet the needs of our clients.
Business travel between countries has been limited to business-critical meetings and will need to be approved by Fidelity’s senior leadership team. Business travel will not be approved for any prohibited areas, a list which we are monitoring and regularly updating and can make available on request.
We have implemented working from home arrangements. For business-critical functions where employees are required in the office, split teams are in place.
Our BCP teams are meeting on a daily basis to monitor the situation and respond accordingly.”
Last week, the CSSF said financial institutions that it regulated had activated their business continuity plans. The CSSF warned that financial firms should “remain vigilant” against fraud and computer breaches as “malicious people seek to take advantage of the situation”.
The CSSF said it continue to operate, although it had cancelled meetings, official travel and participation in events. CSSF “agents have the ability to work and interact with monitored entities remotely, through digital and secure channels.”
Luxembourg Insurance and Reinsurance Association (ACA)
Marc Hengen, managing director of the ACA, said on Monday that businesses are generally not insured against the current government shutdown. He stated:
“Business interruption insurance is an extension of professional property and casualty insurance. The company can thus protect itself from possible loss of turnover related to a fire, a storm or a water damage, which would force it to close its doors or to reduce its activity. It is therefore compensation following a disaster. A government’s decision to close businesses is not one of the guarantees. Nor is it an ‘accident’ in terms of insurance claims.”
Hengen said that insurance agent offices were closed, but insurers continued to operate by telephone and internet, and claims adjustors would continue to inspect damage when needed.
Luxembourg Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (LPEA)
The LPEA “moved into ‘contingency mode’” on 2 March, Rajaa Mekouar-Schneider, the trade group’s CEO told Delano on 16 March. She stated:
“We are moving our business model to ‘virtual’ mode with total conversion to digital channels in all our communications. These measures have been implemented in coordination with other financial associations present in the House of Finance building, at 12 rue Erasme.”
Mekouar-Schneider is the only LPEA staff member who can access the office and she will come only “if absolutely necessary.”
In addition, the organisation has postponed all events, including a planned networking reception in London on 17 March and its annual flagship event, LPEA Insights, which had been planned to take place at the Philharmonie on 12 May. She said:
“Other smaller group events, e.g., trainings, single family office lunches, GP workshops are being moved to digital mode as we speak. We are currently assessing tools which will allow us to convert some of these events into webinars.”
The LPEA “will issue a communication to our members this week regarding solutions to ensure continuity in terms of sharing content and promoting Luxembourg as a PE/VC hub with their contribution” and to solicit their feedback.
Mekouar-Schneider added: “Most important is to make sure everyone stays safe and has the appropriate conditions to work remotely.”
Delano and its sister publication Paperjam have contacted several other financial outfits and will update this page as we confirm information.
Reported by Laura Fort, Aaron Grunwald and Jean-Michel Lalieu; edited by Aaron Grunwald
More Delano coverage of the covid-19 outbreak in Luxembourg here and here.