As the world battles with the spread of the coronavirus, the importance of pandemic planning for financial service organisations including superannuation funds cannot be understated.
The IQ Group recently held an internal discussion on pandemic planning. We discussed the key advisery players for superannuation funds and administrators – Federal Government, State Governments, World Health Organisation and in particular the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
These organisations provide important advice and direction to help organisations manage through the pandemic. While Governments provide directions for the nation and individual States, APRA’s focus is specifically on financial services organisations including RSE licensees.
What should superannuation funds be doing?
· considering publicly available information on pandemic risks, health and hygiene measures as well as tools for pandemic business continuity planning
· execute their pandemic plan
· establish an internal pandemic planning group
· communicate regularly with employees, suppliers and APRA (APRA expect to be informed of any significant impacts on operations, customers and financial condition)
According to APRA. effective pandemic planning generally requires a cross-disciplinary approach involving, for example human resources, business continuity management, security areas, business units and risk management functions within the organisation.
Organisations should have:
· Identified their highest critical business functions
· Co-ordinate between locations and be flexible – different locations may have different needs
· Assessed potential financial impacts
· Assessed potential staffing impacts
· Investigated alternative working arrangements and processing arrangements
We have already seen a significant number of financial services employees shift to working from home, which helps protect employees health, keep the organisation running, and is in line with the advice from the Federal and State Governments.
From our discussion it became clear that it is not the case of one size fits all – organisations need to be adaptable and continuously review and update their plans to cope with radiply changing circumstances.
In addition to various publications from Australia’s Governments (Federal and State), APRA has Prudential Practice Guide – CPG 233 – Pandemic Planning (May 2013) and the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has a Best Practice Paper on Pandemic Planning (Updated March 2020). These documents are a useful tool for trustees to navigate through this situation.
If you need help understanding pandemic planning and the available resources, please email IQ Group at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Business Analyst