A rule change would allow the thousands of daily traders to work from home.
There were 37 more confirmed cases of the virus on Monday (March 9), and that brings the total to 142. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a declaration of emergency to help with the effort to contain the virus.
The CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Kenneth Bentsen Jr., has been spearheading the industry response to the outbreak. He said his organization is talking to regulators about how companies could meet compliance rules if trading staff aren’t working from a place where they’re required to, where there’s plenty of oversight.
The regulators involved include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
“We’re having very robust discussions, we’re all trying to figure this out on both sides,” Bentsen said. “They’ve done this in the past around the 2008 financial crisis and 9/11. This is about identifying where there might be problems that could impair market operations, and providing guidance or forbearance on a temporary basis outweighs any potential risks.”
Many banks have activated emergency plans in response to the virus, including Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.
Goldman Sachs, for example, has split its employees into two groups, the white and blue teams, and it alternates them between office and home work. Citigroup is keeping less than 60 percent of its staff at the main site, and the rest are working from home or in Rochester, New York.
“The goal is to keep markets operating in a fair and orderly fashion: that’s the goal of the regulatory perspective and industry perspective, and to do it in a way that meets the rule sets,” Bentsen said.