November 17, 2020 | Stamford, CT USA — Two-thirds of financial service firms globally say traders and other key employees will be permitted to work from home in the post-pandemic world. 

Earlier this year, broker-dealers, buy-side firms, banks, and other market participants moved swiftly to fortify compliance processes and surveillance platforms to facilitate what had been previously unthinkable—allowing traders to work from locations other than trading desks with centralized compliance infrastructure.  

“The good news is that compliance professionals and technology platforms were up to the task by ensuring the market’s smooth functioning during the market’s biggest test,” says Danielle Tierney, Senior Advisor for Greenwich Associates Market Structure and Technology and author of Regtech’s Incredible Year and What Lies Ahead.

The 210 compliance professionals participating in a recent Greenwich Associates study reported that, after the initial adjustment period, transitions were ultimately successful from both a compliance and productivity standpoint—so much so that only 4% compliance professionals expect their firms to require traders to return to in-office trading desks every day post pandemic. 

“Even for the few firms determined to fully return to a pre-pandemic office presence, maintaining a work-from-home capability will be essential, since U.S. and European regulators have clearly communicated the necessity of a flexible infrastructure conducive to working remotely,” says Danielle Tierney.

Financial service firms tackled the challenge of COVID-19 by elevating compliance to a strategic priority, shifting investment plans to focus on core compliance infrastructure and partnering with external regtech providers, particularly those specializing in communications monitoring and trading surveillance. 

In 2020, approximately three-quarters of study participants “strongly agree” that their organization considers compliance standards highly important—an increase of  11% of respondents compared to last year and topping the level reached in 2018 during the MiFID II implementation era. At the same time, the share of participants “strongly agreeing” that their compliance department is influential in firm-level strategic discussions climbed to a high of 59%.