It would be an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives, both personally and professionally. As the situation rapidly changes, all of us in the business world are learning and adapting as quickly as possible to respond to the crisis at hand and keep our communities safe.
The current implications of COVID-19 on the financial services industry are profound, and the long-term impact on the economy is unclear. As we’ve been communicating with our banking, capital markets, and insurance customers around the globe, their most pressing priorities are centered around four key areas:
- Keeping employees safe and productive.
- Adjusting operating models and services to support customers and help those who need the most assistance.
- Minimizing any operational disruption to keep financial services running for businesses and consumers while meeting regulatory and compliance obligations.
- Managing risk.
We are seeing inspiring examples from financial institutions that have quickly adapted to new ways of working and serving their customers. Banks have activated Microsoft 365 and Teams in place, allowing their employees to work remotely. We have helped insurance companies quickly deploy live-stream events through Microsoft Teams, which has allowed them to move from physical to virtual customer events. Online training for remote servicing and remote selling will be immediate trends as well.
In response to the social distancing guidance associated with COVID-19, regulators have issued temporary facilitative measures to enable customer interaction through non-face-to-face channels, specifically allowing the use of technology, such as the recent guidance issued from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and by the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
We applaud this leadership.
I also wanted to share several resources, solutions and best practices from Microsoft that can help support the financial services industry’s immediate priorities and needs during these challenging times.
Supporting employee safety
To help you focus on the health and well-being of your employees and access the most current data, situation reports, and analysis, we have a number of resources for you and your teams to use:
- You can utilize Crisis Communication, a Power Platform app template that offers steps to quickly build and implement an app for your organization to coordinate information sharing and collaboration in response to evolving conditions.
- Chatbots have proven to be an effective tool to help both customers and employees get the information and support they need quickly—becoming even more critical in times of crisis. Here are some best practices and tips for building a crisis response bot for your organization using Power Virtual Agents.
- Many organizations have found our Bing Coronavirus Tracker very useful in accessing the latest fact-based information, statistics, and news on the current state of the COVID-19 virus. I encourage you to add this to your key resource list.
Supporting remote work scenarios
For those financial services employees who can work from home, we can help enable remote collaboration and productivity through Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams also helps strengthen connections with both employees and customers through virtual events with the same level of security measures. Additionally, it offers a powerful way to serve high-priority customers and high-risk communities through virtual banking.
- If you’re already using Microsoft Teams, visit this help and learning page to get tips and help on getting the most out of Teams at your company.
- If you’re a current Microsoft 365 subscriber, you already have access to Microsoft Teams. If you’re not, Microsoft Teams is now available free for 6 months covering your enterprise, with FastTrack as free enablement for Teams configuration and adoption.
- To help customers learn from our first-hand experience over the past few weeks, we have compiled expertise and guidance to optimize remote work environments.
- We are also sharing a comprehensive work-from-home guide we created for our own employees, which you can tailor for your organization.
- Start the Enterprise Mobility and Security E5 trial for identity threat protection and information security.
- Join our Enabling Remote Work community to stay up-to-date on best-practice sharing for all employees.
Supporting business continuity and agility
We recognize the critical role our technology and services play in your operations and business continuity. As companies operationalize to address new and unique challenges, we have mobilized our global response plan to help customers stay up and running while accommodating new demand. And as you work to flex your operating models to serve your customers in new ways and redefine what it means to support them, increasing the use of digital capabilities can enable improved processes and seamless customer service. Here are some of the steps we are taking and ways we can further support:
- Learn more about our commitment to cloud services continuity through the following updates published on the Azure blog: Our commitment to customers and Microsoft cloud services continuity and Update #2 on Microsoft cloud services continuity.
- We will continue to communicate with customers proactively and transparently about our cloud policies through the Microsoft Trust Center, and we are committed to supporting every customer through this difficult period.
Managing risk across the enterprise
It’s also critical for banks and insurers to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on their portfolios and adjust business accordingly. You can speed your decisions with rapid risk analysis and deep insight with high performance compute for workloads, like credit risk and portfolio risk for banking and actuarial policy risk analysis and product pricing for insurance.
- Learn more about risk grid computing in banking without incurring capital cost or managing infrastructure.
- Review the insurance solution guide for actuarial risk analysis and financial modeling to learn how cloud computing provides scale for extensive risk modeling in less time.
Responding to COVID-19 together
These are just some of the ways we can help support your business. As things are changing daily—and we all learn and adjust as we go—we’ll continue to share new insights and resources. As our CEO Satya Nadella talked about in his recent LinkedIn article, we view our role as a digital-first responder to all the first responders on the front lines, who are critical to the continuity and stability of services in every country.
Our thoughts are with the people affected and the medical professionals working around the clock to help those most in need. And we want to thank our financial institutions for their efforts and leadership to continue to serve our communities during this unprecedented time.
Please know that we are here for you and want to do all that we can to help you overcome the challenges that this pandemic presents to you and your customers. Stay safe and stay well.