When I first started out as a broker as a clerk on the NYMEX trading floor, the internet barely existed. Trades were put through via the phone and deals written on paper pads. So, when disaster struck in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, the NYMEX Oil floor was closed for a few days. There was no working from home. The markets opened when everyone went back to work.
The COVID-19 Pandemic is of course very different but the world has moved on considerably since then. Now, even though financial firms operate from offices headquartered in the City of London, a large amount of the infrastructure is based in the cloud and backed up in multiple locations.
The concept of disaster recovery is not new to financial services firms. All (as required by the FCA) will have written and tested policies, processes and alternative offices that enable them to operate in the event of a disaster.
So what’s it like for brokers working at home?
Adam Blemings – Head of Trading at IG Group said:
Over the last few years IG has supported all functions (including trading, back office and client support) in working remotely in line with our commitment to flexible working and work life balance. My front office colleagues all have the right IT equipment needed to execute our roles. We’ve always had a culture of camaraderie, we are focused on the needs of our clients and want to help them trade markets at all times. At the moment when I’m working remotely, there is no difference for me communicating with my colleagues, whether in the UK, Europe or globally, that’s how it’s always been. The company has made the necessary investment and has the expertise in place to function as a virtual global team.
Adam went on to say that clients shouldn’t worry about brokers working from home as “from an IG perspective, as one of the UK’s oldest online trading companies, we have always made resource available to support our employees wanting to work from home at times during the week. We are living in exceptional times, but we want to ensure there is no difference to the best-in- class client trading experience we aim to deliver for our clients day in and day out.”
My wife and daughter also working at home. We have very good network in London and each have set up an office like environment.. Using Zoom and other products to communicate.. The whole office is home based with full facilities – access to cloud based systems, trading, back office – more or less as normal. Group meetings on our internal telecoms systems.
All of our infrastructure is in the cloud, all servers duplicated and remotely accessed.
Alessandro Capuano, Head of Global Brokerage at Fineco, based in Italy and offers a banking, trading and investing platform said;
The complexity of our business requires a full attention to our systems including the ability to be ready for being fully operative from different location case of a crisis or problem to access to our buildings.
The entire company is working from home. To be honest, technology is now so great after the initial 2/3 days everything is now working all very smoothly and the productivity is the same in some instance even better
When asked if clients should worry about traders working remotely Alessandro said, “we have been working from home from 15 days and no one noticed.”
Steve Sanders, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Product Development at Interactive Brokers which predominantly operates in the US has this to say:
We’re not all working from home. While we’re all trying to transition as many people to home work as possible, there are still a handful of critical workers that must come to the office to keep operations going. We applaud our dedicated employees who are making sacrifices for our business.
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Richard founded the Good Money Guide (previously Good Broker Guide) in 2015 and has been a broker for 20 years most recently at Investors Intelligence and previously a multi-asset derivatives broker at MF Global (Man Financial). Richard started his career working as a private client stockbroker at Walker Crips and Phillip Securities (now King and Shaxson) after interning on the NYMEX oil trading floor in New York and London IPE in 2001 & 2000.