QUESTION:  What is Operational Resilience?

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, operational resilience (or resilience risk) has become a buzzword.

BCM and disaster recovery plans have existed for years but unfortunately in the west, there has been a high degree of complacency in relation to blue-sky thinking and scenario testing for potential operational threats.

Today, the financial services industry is exposed to a variety of risks. Operational resilience planning is there to ensure business processes are able continue to function effectively in various crisis scenarios.

QUESTION: Who is accountable for Resilience?

Although these topics are usually covered in risk, it is imperative that the organisation as a whole understands risk culture.

The asset management world, for example has not developed significantly for the last 20 years and has struggled to adapt to massive changes. The risk prism has broadened and shifted to cover culture, HR, reputational risk and cyber risk which means the accountability is spread across the organisation’s leadership team.

Organisations now have to ensure they are doing the right thing, as well as keeping the business running, to accommodate a changing environment. This will have an effect on hierarchical structures and management styles.

QUESTION: What skill sets are in demand?

The complexity of risk is staggering and therefore, individuals need to bring new ideas, with an entrepreneurial and innovative approach to set things in motion.

Risk leaders have to help embed a sustainable risk culture throughout the organisation but individuals also have to start feeling accountable for everything one does, as everything carries risk to some extent.

QUESTION: What have you learnt from COVID-19?

In hindsight, UK, US and European financial services organisations have not taken the idea of unforeseeable risk seriously enough.

For many, cyber security has been the main problem and basic infrastructure challenges have not been considered by many senior leaders.

One should consider the knock-on effects COVID-19 could have on the financial services industry and organisations should aim to be flexible with talent in order to create sustainable organisations that are trusted by consumers.


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Leathwaite recently executed a series of interviews with global heads of Risk to understand how organisations across all sectors have been implementing crisis plans.

Since lockdown began, organisations across all sectors have been implementing crisis plans. We were keen to understand what financial services firms globally had put in place over the last year; since regulators, particularly in the UK, began to make stipulations around process mapping, understanding of impact tolerances and running increased scenario testing.

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