Securities watchdogs responding to coronavirus hurdles

By James Langton | March 4, 2020 | Last updated on March 4, 2020
2 min read
Trouble ahead, Businessman with umbrella standing in front of stormy clouds
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The growing fallout from the coronavirus outbreak is prompting action from major financial industry regulators.

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said in a March 3 release that it’s reviewing industry firms’ back-up plans and working with financial firms to ensure that they’re responding effectively to the outbreak.

“We expect all firms to have contingency plans in place to deal with major events,” it said.

In cooperation with the Bank of England (BoE), the FCA said that it’s actively reviewing the contingency plans of “a wide range of firms.”

“This includes 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,” it said.

The regulator added that it expects firms to ensure that they can meet their regulatory obligations, even if that involves operating remotely.

“We would expect firms to be able to enter orders and transactions promptly into the relevant systems, use recorded lines when trading and give staff access to the compliance support they need,” it said. “If firms are able to meet these standards and undertake these activities from backup sites or with staff working from home, we have no objection to this.”

The FCA also said that it is engaging in dialogue with the industry to understand, and resolve, possible operational issues that may arise as the industry deals with the spreading effects of the outbreak.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in a March 4 release that it’s providing conditional relief for certain filing obligations by public companies under federal securities laws.

“The impacts of the coronavirus may present challenges for certain companies that are required to provide information to trading markets, shareholders, and the SEC,” it said.

As a result, the U.S. regulator is providing an extra 45 days to file certain disclosure reports that are due between March 1 and April 30.

The SEC said it may extend the relief “as circumstances warrant,” and one of the conditions is that companies have to provide a summary of why relief is needed.

“While timely public filing of Exchange Act reports is a cornerstone of well-functioning markets, we recognize that this situation may prevent certain issuers from compiling these reports within required timeframes,” said SEC chairman Jay Clayton.

Clayton also said that companies should provide investors with insight into the impact of the coronavirus and how they plan to respond to the outbreak.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.