The COVID-19 crisis has forced organisations heavily reliant on the robustness of their operations infrastructure – such as HSBC’s Issuer Services – to adapt rapidly to the new normal so that they can continue delivering a seamless service to clients. Giovanni Fenocchi, Global Head of Issuer Services and Karen Lomax, Head of Issuer Services, Europe at HSBC, share their insights into how the bank has sustained its operational resiliency during this period.

    How has HSBC’s Issuer Services addressed Covid-19 and its challenges?

    Fenocchi: The business had to adapt very quickly to the changing circumstances, so that we could continue providing excellent service levels to clients albeit from a remote working environment. In some instances, particularly in our operations teams, we have lifted employees’ entire work stations and moved them into their personal homes. Our client services teams have been able to keep up with increased client demand with the same level of responsiveness and to date we have not seen any operational request which could not be addressed by working remotely. We are in regular, virtual communications with customers, updating them on events and sharing details about how our BCP (Business Continuity Plan) is working.

    Lomax: HSBC has shown itself to be incredibly versatile over the last few months. Within our Issuer Services business, one of the most notable, positive developments is that decision-making – along with certain operational processes – which traditionally were quite time-consuming, have now been dramatically expedited. The industry has also taken practical, sensible steps to overcome some of the constraints being imposed by social distancing. For instance, some deal-making documents – which previously required wet signatures – can now be signed electronically. Overall, we have observed a huge increase in team work and team spirit, and this is having a tremendous impact on our ability to support our clients during this crisis.

    The business had to adapt very quickly. In some instances, particularly in our operations teams, we have lifted employees’ entire work stations and moved them into their personal homes.

    Giovanni Fenocchi

    How critical was HSBC’s BCP testing in helping the bank’s operations withstand Covid-19?

    Fenocchi: BCP is something which at HSBC we test regularly to ensure we can meet a variety of scenarios and always be prepared to respond in the most effective way. However, most BCP plans still include an element of working from an office, even if that is a separate contingency site. So, if somebody had warned me six months ago that the majority of the Issuer Services team would be working from home, I would not have believed them. All BCP scenarios are unique, so we always face some unknowns. This means that a small part of it is also about having the right mindset, being prepared to be flexible in our approach and testing our operational resiliency processes differently. That is how we approached this crisis, by executing our contingency plans while ensuring no disruption to client service in a remote working environment. The positive feedback received is testament to our resilience and excellent BCP set-up.

    One of the most notable, positive developments is that decision-making – along with certain operational processes – which traditionally were quite time-consuming, have now been dramatically expedited.

    Karen Lomax

    What other added advantages did HSBC have when implementing its remote working policies?

    Lomax: Other factors were equally instrumental in ensuring business as usual at HSBC. HSBC has a long track record of allowing staff – especially those employed in sales and client services roles – to work remotely. These flexible arrangements meant that many of our staff already had their own work desk set-ups in place at home. This helped make the sudden transition to working from home post-lockdown easier to implement. Nonetheless, many of our employees’ work-life balances have been severely disrupted as a result of having to home-school their children, while simultaneously dealing with a spike in work volumes. It is critical we are flexible and that employees are supported during this period.

    To find out more about HSBC Issuer Services, please visit our website: www.gbm.hsbc.com/issuer-services

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