RLR Management Consulting

Pandemic Planning! How Well Did It Work?

By Ruth Razook,Founder & CEO
RLR Management Consulting, Inc.

Our third and final article in a series on Pandemic Planning…

Well, COVID-19 is still here and it may not go away for a while. It appears COVID-19 will permanently change society, business practices and the economy. In some cases, the pandemic is likely to accelerate or heighten trends that were ongoing before the crisis:

  • Working remotely
  • Consolidation in the industry
  • Move to “connect” remotely rather than in person
  • Shopping, really “everything” online

We have talked about the definition of a pandemic and the regulations that have been published to address Pandemic Planning, i.e. developing Pandemic Plans and performing testing. How well did it work? Interesting that some banks struggled a great deal while other banks did not. How well were you prepared? Have you kept your plan up to date? Did you record “Lessons Learned” from this pandemic?

The best way to adjust your plan is to use your experience in this pandemic. While talking with banks we have heard very creative solutions that were implemented, solutions that were not in their original Pandemic Plan.

It was determined that a huge risk to the Bank would be the headquarters building experiencing an outbreak and 1) it spread to several executives and 2) it threatened many more. It was decided that each department would be looked at and two individuals that were critical to the Bank would be identified. They then physically moved one of the individuals either to another building, or had that individual work at home. Luckily, this bank continued their day-to-day activities seamlessly.

We have learned that adjusting your pandemic plan has proven time and time again to be a must! What else do you need to do going forward?

Look at your Lines of Business. Think about creating new products and services to meet the new needs of your customers with an emphasis on savings, liquidity, rebuilding assets and debt reduction.

Workforce. Evaluate your workforce and determine how you manage in this “new normal” to ensure collaboration and accountability as well as ensure work-from-home online security and ongoing communication throughout the event.

Operations. Enhance risk management. Unfortunately, in difficult times, people take advantage and you need to ensure you continuously enhance risk management to protect the bank and your customers! Address your loan workout capabilities. How do they change and what can you do to reduce the risk? The economy took a hit and your customers did too.

Delivery Channels. With decreases in demand for branch visits, re-visit your remote delivery channels. Banks have found that even though they were not sure if working remotely would work, it can!

Strategy. Your strategic plan for 2020 is more than likely unrealistic at this time. Re-evaluate what your new strategy is with consideration of the world in which we now live, and the world we will live in into the future.

Finally, don’t forget about the Regulators! Have you seen the “Interagency Examiner Guidance for Assessing Safety and Soundness Considering the Effect on the COVID-19 Pandemic in institutions” (June 2020)? Check it out and be ready! https://www.fdic.gov/news/financial-institution-letters/2020/fil20064.html

RLR is here and ready to help! Contact us at info@rlrmgmt.com for assistance.