Coronavirus (Covid-19): Information for firms

Our expectations for firms during the coronavirus pandemic, and the measures we’ve put in place to make sure customers are protected and markets continue to function well.   

Coronavirus is causing unprecedented levels of uncertainty in financial markets. 

We are working closely with the Government, the Bank of England, the Payment Systems Regulator and firms to make sure customers are protected and markets continue to function well.

We have significant resources focused on our response to the coronavirus pandemic, both for the firms we regulate, our colleagues and consumers. We continue to update this information and expect to continue adapting our guidance as the coronavirus situation develops.

Firms and markets Working with consumers and clients 
Flexibility and deadline extensions

    Your responsibilities

    Operational resilience

    Our rules give you the ability to consider your arrangements and your customers’ circumstances.

    We welcome firms reviewing their current arrangements to address the evolving situation while managing the risks to their employees, customers and the impact on the market.

    We expect you to:

    • take reasonable steps to ensure you are prepared to meet the challenges coronavirus poses to customers and staff, particularly through your business continuity plans
    • provide strong and transparent support and service to customers and small businesses
    • manage your financial resilience and actively manage your liquidity (you should report to us immediately if you believe you will be in difficulty)
    • prioritise information security and ensure that adequate controls are in place to manage cyber threats

    You should have tested contingency plans to deal with major events. 

    Alongside the Bank, we are actively reviewing the contingency plans of a wide range of firms. This includes firms’ assessments of operational risks, the ability of firms to continue to operate effectively and the steps firms are taking to serve and support their customers.

    You should take all reasonable steps to meet the regulatory obligations that are in place to protect your customers and maintain market integrity. 

    Read our consultation paper on operational resilience matters that firms should be considering.

    Information security

    Cyber criminals are increasingly exploiting coronavirus related themes for their own gain. In the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has detected more UK Government branded scams relating to coronavirus than any other subject.

    Operational disruptions (including cyber related incidents) can:

    • mean important business services are unavailable
    • have the potential to cause wide-reaching harm to consumers and market integrity
    • threaten the viability of firms
    • cause instability in the financial system

    While alternative ways of working may be needed to enable business continuity, we expect you to prioritise information security and ensure that adequate controls are in place to manage cyber threats and respond to major incidents. You should look to implement enhanced monitoring to protect end points, information and firm critical processes, including network connections and video conferencing software.

    We expect you to proactively manage the increased risk. This includes:

    • being vigilant to the potential increase in security breaches or cyber attacks
    • ensuring that you continue to have appropriate governance and oversight arrangements
    • reviewing the impact of coronavirus on your information and systems security defences, and taking action as needed 
    • ensuring that the general notification requirements are followed, and significant operational/cyber incidents are reported

    We are in regular contact with industry, the Government, trade associations and other regulators to understand the impact of coronavirus on firms’ operational resilience. In particular, we are working closely with industry to ensure that workarounds and continuity actions do not adversely impact firms’ information security controls and their ability to provide services to customers.

    Please check the NCSC for advice on how to keep your organisation secure. To subscribe to up-to-date cyber threat information, please see the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP).

    Market trading and reporting

    At the start of the pandemic, if your firm moved to an alternative site or a working from home arrangement, we asked you to consider the broader control environment in view of the new circumstances. 

    Given the extensive duration of these arrangements, we now expect you to record all relevant communications (including voice calls) when working outside the office. 

    You should continue to take all steps to prevent market abuse risks. This could include enhanced monitoring, or retrospective reviews. We will continue to monitor for market abuse and, if necessary, take action. 

    You should also submit regulatory data without undue delay. 

    If you have any concerns about meeting your obligations due to coronavirus, you should contact us via your regular supervisory channels as soon as possible.

    Our expectations of listed issuers

    We’ve provided updates on our expectations of listed issuers in our November 2020 Policy Statement on European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) reporting and in subsequent Primary Market Bulletins. 

    MiFID Markets Regime

    Our Supervisory Statement on the Operation of the MiFID Markets Regime sets out how we will operate the pre and post-trade transparency regime for the secondary trading of financial instruments after the end of the EU withdrawal transition period.

    More information

    Market Watch 63 was published on 27 May 2020 and sets our expectations of market conduct and discipline in the context of coronavirus. 

    Any future updates regarding our expectations of market participants, including listed issuers, will be made using our usual communication channels, including:

    • supervisory communications
    • Market Watch
    • Primary Market Bulletins

    Page updates

    19/01/2021: Editorial amendment House style edits and layout changes to improve navigation.
    12/01/2021: Editorial amendment SM&CR content moved to SM&CR page,
    08/01/2021: Editorial amendment Stylistic edits to 'market trading and reporting' section.
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    08/01/2021: Editorial amendment Professional qualification exams content moved to CPD page.
    16/12/2020: Editorial amendment Payment and retail banking content moved to new page.
    10/12/2020: Editorial amendment Consumers and clients content moved to new page.
    04/12/2020: Editorial amendment Consumer credit and unsecured debt content moved to new page
    12/11/2020: Information changed 'Daily' removed from email round-up highlight box.
    28/10/2020: Editorial amendment Mutual society information removed from this page and moved to relevant mutual society pages.

    06/08/2020: Information changed Latest news box removed as information linked elsewhere across coronavirus pages

    31/07/2020: Information added Links to Call for Input and Guidance Consultation, both published today

    15/07/2020: Information changed Updated information on credit cards and motor finance

    09/07/2020: Information changed Updated section on safeguarding and prudential risk management

    03/07/2020: Information added To motor finance and high cost credit section following updated draft temporary guidance

    01/07/2020: Information changed Unsecured debt products – persistent credit card debt

    01/07/2020: Information added Credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts: updated temporary guidance

    29/06/2020: Information added Handling consumer claims and refund requests

    26/06/2020: Information added We announce further temporary measures for firms submitting regulatory returns

    19/06/2020: Information added Updated links to mortgage guidance and added link to press release

    05/06/2020: Information added Safeguarding and prudential risk management consultation: closing date extended

    04/06/2020: Information added Update to statement on banks, building societies and credit unions branch access

    04/06/2020: Information added Megan Butler speech at PIMFA virtual festival

    03/06/2020: Information added Press reelase confirming guidance for insurance firms on assessing product value

    02/06/2020: Information added Press release on support for customers who are struggling to pay their mortgage

    28/05/2020: Information added Primary Market Bulletin 28 and Market Watch 63

    27/05/2020: Information added Allowing individuals to carry over Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

    22/05/2020: Information added Safeguarding and prudential risk management information

    21/05/2020: Information added ESMA statement added to firms' responsibilities section

    14/05/2020: Link added Latest news section press release confirming measures to help insurance customers

    10/05/2020: Information added FSAEU update following the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday 10 May

    06/05/2020: Information added Financial crime systems and controls

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    05/05/2020: Information added Access to restricted savings

    01/05/2020: Information added press release and statement on insuring SMEs: business interruption & package of measures

    30/04/2020: Information added Strong customer authentication and coronavirus

    28/04/2020: Information added Mutual societies AGMs update

    24/04/2020: Information added Motor finance and high-cost credit agreements: temporary guidance

    21/04/2020: Information added Professional qualification exams

    17/04/2020: Information added Motor finance and high-cost credit agreements: draft temporary guidance

    16/04/2020: Information added Cross-border payments regulation

    08/04/2020: Information added Additional primary market measures news added

    07/04/2020: Information added Pensions and retirement income, and investments and life assurance guidance

    07/04/2020: Information added Updated Delays to publications list and published Delayed implementation of rules list

    03/04/2020: Information added Pensions

    02/04/2020: Information added Mutual societies

    02/04/2020: Information added Temporary financial relief for customers: proposed guidance published

    31/03/2020: Publication added Dear CEO letter: coronavirus update for firms providing services to retail investors

    31/03/2020: Information added Our expectations of payment and retail banking firms

    25/03/2020: Information added SM&CR responsibilities