JPMorgan trading, sales staff to head for backup sites as virus response expands

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JPMorgan Chase & Co. is sending hundreds of its New York and London sales and trading staff to backup locations to reduce disruptions if employees are exposed to the coronavirus.

“We are starting to shift people as a precautionary measure at this stage,” Marc Badrichani, who leads global sales and research, and Troy Rohrbaugh, the head of global markets, wrote in a memo to employees Thursday. “Dividing our workforce into different locations improves our ability to serve clients continuously while reducing the health risks associated with physical contact should a case arise.”

The bank’s sales and traders will be informed of their assigned locations this week and are expected to work from those places and limit contact with employees at different sites “until further notice,” according to the memo.

The bank also prohibited employees from different locations from attending the same in-person meetings with clients or regulators and told them not attend the same internal meetings, such as training sessions and town halls.

Brian Marchiony, a bank spokesman, confirmed the plans and said they are “precautionary.”
JPMorgan has moved faster than most other U.S. banks in implementing precautionary measures to ensure it can keep its business running in the event of widespread disruptions.

While top Citigroup Inc. executives have been visiting redundancy sites in New Jersey and London that will serve as backups to its main trading floors, the bank hasn’t yet moved most of its traders, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Copenhagen’s Danske Bank told staff Thursday it was planning to split up its trading floor.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in financial hubs including New York City and London has been climbing. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that spread of the virus from person to person is likely to become more common.

Experts have been urging populations to implement social-distancing measures to limit the spread of the highly contagious virus. Banks around the globe have been dusting off regulatory plans for keeping critical operations open through a potential pandemic by restricting travel, asking staff to work from home, splitting up teams and quarantining staff.

JPMorgan’s precautions, which will result in only a small number of sales and trading staff working from home, highlight the difficulty banks have had making contingency plans for traders, who can’t telecommute as easily.

The bank’s New York staff will be divided between the main trading floor at the former Bear Stearns building in Manhattan and back-up locations in Brooklyn and New Jersey, according to a person briefed on the moves. Some will also be working from home.

In London, staff will be split between the main floor and two alternate locations in the area, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing internal plans.

Earlier this week, JPMorgan asked 10% of staff across the consumer bank to work remotely to help test the resilience of its plans. It has also restricted non-essential international travel.

Bloomberg News