Banks tighten control over traders in remote work

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(Bloomberg) – In this era of remote work with no end in sight, the financial sector is taking unprecedented steps to watch bankers and prevent wrongdoing.

Bank traders like Barclays must make sure that they work in separate rooms from people who live in the house. Morgan Stanley bankers use laptops where each key is recorded. Banks like NatWest Group require daily updates of operator locations and record video calls.

With new lockdowns across Europe this weekend, with Londoners being banned from meeting other families indoors and Parisians under a curfew, this remote monitoring seems to have come a long time ago.

The pandemic has already forced bank and trading compliance authorities to navigate a steep learning curve since March, when they assembled a patchwork of measures for the first government-imposed shutdowns.

Regulators, who initially had to relax some monitoring rules to allow operators to work from home, now expect kitchen tables to be monitored closely like trading sessions.

“Going forward, office and work at home regimes should be equivalent,” said Julia Hoggett, director of market oversight at the UK Financial Conduct Authority, during this week’s City & Financial Global conference. “This is not a market for information that we want to be arbitrated.”

The stakes for banks are high. Inside information, manipulation and misuse of accounts are high risks when traders are alone.

After a decade of trying to rebuild the lost confidence in market scandals, companies need to show that they have not forgotten the lessons. In the five years to September 2017, banks disbursed $ 375 billion in conduct fines, according to a report by the FMSB industry panel.

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