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Creating a Pandemic Plan for Banking and Lending Institutions

Right now, the country is resetting from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and actively preparing for the potential of a second wave.

Many organizations were not prepared for the kind of disruptions that COVID-19 brought, simply because we had never seen anything like it before. This sweet spot in between waves is a good time to consider a pandemic preparedness plan for your lending institution.

Put Together a Comprehensive Employee Process

Not everyone in your organization is going to be able to work from home. Banking and lending require some face-to-face interaction with cardmembers and clients due to federal rules and regulations. Having a plan and process for every position within your organization will help you implement a pandemic response quickly.

Employees that are able to work remotely should have technology readily available to take home and set up. Now is a great time to work with the IT branch of your organization or a local IT company to set up a virtual private network (VPN). Using a VPN, your employees can connect directly to the organization’s local network, ensuring privacy.

Those who are working in the office should have training in what the proper processes are for coming into the office during a pandemic. Include a pandemic clause in your handbook stating your policy on things like masks, temperature checks, and symptom disclosure so all employees are aware of the process from day one.

Commission a Cybersecurity Team

Especially in the world of banking and lending, cybersecurity is critically important. Everything from video conferencing to emailing should take place over the VPN. Your IT team should also be able to push software updates directly to your team members’ computers.

If your employees were in the office, they would automatically receive updates. It should be the same when they are at home, not only because they need to have the same capabilities as everyone else, but because outdated software is easier to hack.

Consider also implementing a bi-annual cybersecurity training so that all employees have a firm grasp on the importance of cybersecurity and what they can do to help when they work from home.

Provide Over-the-Top Consumer Services

Pandemics are scary. People wonder whether they will catch the virus, if they can afford to make it through if they are laid off or furloughed, and what everything is going to be like as things go back to normal. If you can give your cardmembers and consumers some sense of support and normalcy, it can go a long way.

Some things you can do to improve service during a pandemic include:

· Utilizing all of your communication channels to keep people up to date with the latest

information and let them know you care

· Keeping your hardware (ATMs, etc) in service and working well – if your normal servicer is having backups, see if you can get some temporary help

· Add digitalization options for your consumers and cardmembers before things get out of hand so cardmembers have virtually the same access to their information and customer service as they did pre-pandemic

One fear that many people have when their financial wellbeing is up in the air is if they will be able to continue paying their mortgage, loans, or credit cards on time. Giving your cardmembers or consumers access to quality credit counseling services can help you minimize your risk and theirs.

Peregrin offers customer referral management for credit counseling as well as automated debt management plan (DMP) processing that can help your cardmembers get some peace of mind during a difficult time. If you have questions or would like to set up a consultation, give us a call at 1-800-231-2493 or contact us on the website today.

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