Blog: How tech providers can support financial services firms on operational resilience – Pinsent Masons

  • be sufficient to identify the people, technology, processes and other resources that would be critical to the continued delivery of the customer’s client-facing service in the event of severe disruption;
  • provide sufficient insight into potential vulnerabilities to that service which may arise in the event of severe disruption.

Technology providers will need to assess how to meet these disclosure expectations without compromising commercial sensitivities or data and systems security. As the regulators have largely left it to the regulated entities to determine the level of granularity required for the mapping of each service, the approach one customer may take to meeting its mapping requirements may differ from that of another. Technology providers will also be mindful of protecting the confidentiality of other customers’ information, particularly in the context of shared service environments.

There is an opportunity for technology providers to get ahead of the curve and propose levels of disclosure that appropriately meet the regulatory resilience objectives.  

Impact tolerances

At the centre of the UK’s operational resilience framework is the requirement for regulated entities to, by March 2025, ensure that their important business services stay within defined impact tolerances. Maximum tolerable levels of disruption (MLTDs) are to be set for each important business service. These may take into account recovery time objectives, recovery point objectives, work recovery times and other key metrics that measure the ability of the service to remain fully available.

Increasingly, regulated entities are assessing service level commitments, other performance indicators and associated reporting and corrective action commitments from an operational resilience perspective to meet these regulatory expectations. Gaining an understanding of common approaches taken in setting MLTDs will help technology suppliers design and implement services that support customers in evidencing that their third party dependencies do not compromise their operational resilience.

Scenario testing

Regulators expect regulated entities to involve their third party suppliers in operational resilience testing activities. These tests focus on “severe but plausible disruption” and may require a level of participation that is different from other security or business continuity testing scenarios that some technology suppliers may be more accustomed to.

A core purpose of the tests will be to validate or invalidate the MLTD set by the customer. If a test demonstrates that a MLTD is not valid, this could have a knock-on effect on agreed service levels or other contractual arrangements, as the customer may look to amend the contract to bring the service within a revised MTLD.

Technology suppliers that have considered the potential consequences of a scenario test invalidating a service’s MLTD will be better placed to propose appropriate contractual terms which govern their participation in tests and the actions required to address the outcome of the tests. To date, the focus of many suppliers in this area has been around the effort and cost involved in participating in testing. While this is a valid concern to address, it is also important for suppliers to understand the broader regulatory challenge around responding to test outcomes. Doing so may improve the opportunity for both parties to plan at the pre-contractual stage for the operational, cost and other implications that changes to MLTDs may require.

Consequences of getting it right or wrong

Suppliers that engage with the operational reliance requirements of their customers will be better placed to provide effective services to regulated financial services providers in future. Those that do not risk losing market share.

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