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Cristina McEachern
Cristina McEachern
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Update: SIA Committee on Business-Continuity Planning Moves Forward

The SIA's BCP Committee has been making strides to ensure the financial-services industry is well prepared for any business interruption. Committee Chair Paul Honey shares the latest initiatives.

The Securities Industry Command Center is working closely with other organizations to ensure the industry is well-prepared.

While business-continuity planning and disaster recovery are still fresh on everyone's mind, the SIA's Business Continuity Planning Committee has been hard at work with representatives from the financial-services community to help firms become better prepared in the event of a disaster or other business disruption.

Committee Chair Paul Honey, first vice president of global contingency planning at Merrill Lynch, reports that the Securities Industry Command Center is up and running, is being tested regularly and has even been put into action a couple of times. "It's working very well and we're coordinating very closely with SIA firms, as well as the Bond Market Association and other bodies on the command center," he says.

For security reasons, the location and description of the center have not been disclosed to the public, but Honey says there is a physical location where firms can congregate, as well as virtual capabilities for continuity efforts from a central base. There will be further tests and drills involving the command center, which was recently put through a real-life test during the Queens bus strike. "There was an issue where portions of our industry could have had trouble commuting from the Queens area, so that enabled us to sort of flush out some of the information roots and make sure people were apprised of the situation," says Honey.

Over the past several months, the BCP committee has also been working closely with the New York City Office of Emergency Management to arrange representation in its command center. "We've been very proactive in letting the various initiatives at the Federal and other industry levels understand what we are doing, how they can reach us and how we're working so we present a united voice to the outside world," adds Honey.

The SIA BCP committee has also been working diligently on the first-draft release of its best practices for financial-services firms. "We realize that a lot of firms are looking for this type of information so we worked together to get our viewpoints down on paper," says Honey. But the best practices will remain in draft form until regulators, such as the SEC and the Federal Reserve, make their views known. The regulator's views and recommendations are expected to be released sometime later this summer, at which time the SIA will work closely with them to ensure the committee's best practices and standards take into account the regulator's requirements.

The committee has also been working to ensure a coordinated approach to testing across the industry. "We want to make sure everyone from the broker/dealers through to the exchanges and the other market participants are coordinated in their approach to testing," says Honey, who adds that a test calendar has been compiled for testing dates of various elements. The committee is also working with critical vendors in the industry, such as market-data vendors and power and telecommunications providers, to make sure they are adequately prepared by conducting surveys to gauge their plans and resiliency. Looking forward, the SIA already has plans for a BCP conference to take place. "I think the regulatory viewpoints will be known by then so we'll be able to assist the marketplace with plans for 2003 and beyond," says Honey.


SIA Business Continuity Planning Conference and Exhibit
The SIA's first BCP event will take place Oct. 29-30 at the New York Marriott Brooklyn. The event will cover updates on the SIA Securities Industry Command Center, the ongoing coordination with stock exchanges and industry utilities, critical infrastructure and technology planning, as well as business-management planning, best practices, awareness, education and insurance requirements for financial-services firms.

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