COVID-19 – Working Like We’ve Never Worked Before

Robert Buxton

27th March 2020

Like many firms across the Globe, the IS Prime team is now working from home and adjusting to a new way of living and working.


For years, we as an industry have been subject to increasingly strict regulatory controls around the manner in which we interact with clients – from the execution of trades, to the recording of calls, and these controls have grown in marked parallel with the emergence of remote working, and working from home, as a paradigm in other industries.

And all of a sudden – here we all are, working from home, with family underfoot as we try to juggle the demands of employers, restricted daily outings and childcare.

Our Industry 

Our industry is still heavily reliant on voice interaction – not only in terms of trade execution, but also for rapid communication of information, and for relationship management. We are all accustomed to shouting across desks to our colleagues when we need to communicate urgently, be it asking for a price or sharing market information. We are also accustomed to the trust and responsiveness that face-to-face communication creates between our sales teams and our clients.

How do we continue meet these very human needs for efficient, direct communication that builds and strengthens relationships, when we are all physically separated? How do we maintain bonds with our colleagues and our clients during a time of enforced social isolation?

Fortunately, there is no time like the present when it comes to the range and versatility of technology available to support us in these challenging times. Many firms have long had remote working and collaboration capabilities, through customised installations of tools such as Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. Other firms are able to rapidly adopt and roll out video- and audio-conferencing tools such as Zoom and Slack, building a resilient remote working capability on the fly.

Indeed, although we may be having fewer face-to-face visits, we are probably having a much higher number of face-to-face calls through these channels. And the previously taboo scenario of being on a video conference when your child stops by to say hello is now becoming increasingly commonplace and accepted as par for the course. Perhaps these new challenges – of managing the sudden integration of work and family – are actually humanising us more in each other’s eyes and bringing a new dimension to our professional relationships.

As members of the financial markets community, we also face some rather unique challenges. We need to ensure that our communications and our regulated activities, such as trade execution and advising clients, are done in a compliant manner, and that calls are recorded and the correct data is captured. In the US, FINRA has indicated that it would relax some rules so that traders could work from home, as long as their employers can demonstrate adequate supervision and oversight, however, in the UK, the FCA has not relaxed any rules. This means that we all need to be especially careful about what channels of communication we use with clients and counterparties.

As a Prime of Prime we are dealing with many hundreds of clients in one of the fastest moving markets in the World and, as a result of this, speed and connectivity are of paramount importance to us. At IS Prime, we are fortunate in that we have a robust, efficient and bespoke technology offering in order to support our clients’ execution needs. We also maintain resilient operations through our choice of platform providers; for example, our agency platform is centrally cleared by a leading European banking institution.

In these unprecedented times, it’s important to remember that we are all in the same boat together. It’s up to us all to continue making the effort to connect on a personal level: building bridges and accommodating each other’s specific circumstances.

Over the coming weeks we will be putting out a series of articles on the challenges faced by institutions and individuals across our market, and the strategies employed to combat these, in order to help share the experience we have as a firm, and as a group, with IS Prime and IS Risk Analytics.

The IS Prime team takes our obligations, both as a regulated entity, as market participants and, most importantly, as members of society as a whole extremely seriously. We are here to support our clients, and to maintain our relationships, in whatever way we can.