Shared from the 7/15/2020 Financial Review eEdition

Monitoring to be honed as remote work beds in


Companies want the government to back flexible workplaces and the digital ways of doing business with legislative reform. PHOTO: NIC WALKER

Top financial institutions expect large numbers of their workforces to keep working from home long-term, and are improving systems for monitoring them.

They are also calling for the government to amend the laws to ensure that temporary responses to the pandemic can be made permanent.

Senior managers at ANZ, IAG, JP Morgan and Computershare provided insights into their COVID-19 responses during a webinar hosted by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

‘‘We will never go back to how we were before,’’ said Warren Davis, chief operating officer at JP Morgan, whose custody business holds one-third of superannuation assets in Australia.

‘‘I don’t know where exactly it lands yet, but the forward-looking trajectory is different to how it has been in the past, and technology will play a big part in that.’’

Gathering data on staff – from their participation in remote training to phone usage – was becoming more vital to build profiles of employee compliance, Mr Davis said. ‘‘Our supervision platform is exactly the same whether or not you are in the office,’’ he added.

‘‘We use an enormous amount of data to shape the future ... it’s not about being big brother. It’s about protecting the customers, our people, and the economy. I don’t apologise for those data points on our people.’’

Gerard Florian, ANZ’s group executive for technology, said the bank was preparing to ‘‘continue to operate in the new mode’’ and was adapting risk policies to allow continuing flexible staff working arrangements.

‘‘The likelihood we are going to go back to what we knew is almost zero in my opinion,’’ he said. ‘‘It is going to be different. The question is, how different and what do we need to have in place?’’

Mr Florian said the WebEx software being used for yesterday’s session, which had 400 registrants, was one of several new networking tools to have become popular during the pandemic. But broader adoption needed to be accompanied by a cultural shift that should not be underestimated.

‘‘There is a lot to do to make it work well,’’ he said.

Suzanne Storrie, crisis director for IAG’s COVID response, said 84 per cent of the insurer’s staff were very happy working at home, and 60 per cent expected to return to a hybrid model after the crisis, where they might continue to work at home for three days a week. This was creating new challenges for HR, including how to onboard new staff.

Companies want the government to back flexible workplaces and the digital ways of doing business with legislative reform.

Ms Storrie said it was crucial to ‘‘ensure we have policies and laws in place that support this new way of working so we can use all of the talent across the country in flexible working and don’t have unintended consequences or complexity in legislation that impinges or causes us to have to revert back to old ways of working’’.

Ann Bowering, CEO of issuer services at Computershare, the registry for 50 per cent of ASX-listed companies, said ASIC and the ASX had responded well in terms of relief around virtual meetings and capital raisings.

However, she said more could be done to entrench digital ways of operating, including modernisation of the Corporations Act to reflect digital transformation and new technologies.

‘‘The act was largely drafted last century,’’ she said. ‘‘Legislative reform is on the agenda, and it is a huge opportunity to modernise the act as a medium-term proposition.’’

ANZ’s Mr Florian said the financial industry needed to collectively pool the lessons from the pandemic.

‘‘Across many organisations, the lessons we have had in the last three months are just incredible,’’ he said.

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