Avian Flu Gives City Firms a Wake Up Call, Says New Research

New research* from Mitel has revealed that over half (52%) of city firms have no plans in place to deal with the outbreak of a pandemic.

The research will come as a serious wake up call to the financial services sector given the recent outbreak of avian flu in Suffolk. This latest chapter in the ongoing threat from avian flu highlights the real need to be prepared should a pandemic hit the UK. Not only will this pose a serious threat to the health of the nation, it also threatens the financial stability of the country.

While prepared for more commonplace hazards in the office environment, such as fire, which 80% per cent of the city have planned for, it seems they are less prepared for others. When it comes to IT systems for example, the backbone of businesses in the city due to the huge quantities of financial information at risk, over a third (36%) confess to not planning for a major failure. While 44 per cent have not planned how they would operate in the event of their normal working site being unavailable.

However, there is a divide in the financial services sector as to those who are more organised than others. While over eight in 10 (85%) corporate banking firms are confident they have plans in place in the event of their normal working site being unavailable, city traders and brokers are the worst prepared with 45 per cent not clear on how they would work if their site was shut down.

Brokers and traders are also the least prepared in the financial services sector for the risk from fire (55%) and threat of terrorist attacks (50%). This is surprising given the high stakes involved on the trading floor where fortunes can change dramatically in a matter of minutes. Being out of action, even for a couple of hours, due to an unforeseen emergency, could have a significant impact on a firms’ bottom line.

Ian Bevington, vertical marketing specialist at Mitel, said: “The financial services sector, in particular, should be leading the way because of the very nature of their business and importance to the economy. They must have plans in place to deal with a potential disaster, or face the very real prospect of severe financial losses. The increasing threat of terrorism and a pandemic should be a high priority for businesses in all sectors, and the importance of having sound business continuity plans in place should not be underestimated.

“It is also worrying to see that the majority of financial services firms are not fully exploiting the wealth of technology now available to support remote and flexible working. It is crucial to invest in a sound IT infrastructure so that employees can continue to work in the best possible way in the event of a disaster and minimise the impact on productivity and profitability.”

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