Thursday, April 13, 2006

Avian Flu Resiliency Preparation

Recently there have been a number of instances where clients have questioned us about our plans and preparations for a possible outbreak of pandemic illness - specifically the Avian Flu.
That's how one of the many e-mails I get at work started out.
. . . The Bank has established a comprehensive, cross-functional scenario planning process, designed to identify exposures, business impact, existing control cap bilities, gaps and remediation recommendations based on major scenario types has been established. This process serves as the foundation of The Bank's "Scenario-Based Business Resiliency Planning" program and facilitates a more effective management prioritization process to invest and continue to enhance The Bank's business resiliency capabilities.
Now, I can appreciate that a large financial institution should have a business resiliancy plan for dealing with emergencies. Hell, I even worked on the Help Desk's plan after 9/11 when I became the floor warden (a plan that seems to have been forgotten in the years since). But, in all honesty, compared to Avian flu, I suspect my finances are at a greater risk from mis-statements of earnings and fraud perpetrated by overpaid executives than by a disease that has thus far only affected people who live with their chickens.

This fear-mongering is propagated by the sensationalistic news media and, much like drug company advertising drives people to demand treatment for non-diseases like "restless leg syndrome", the Avian flu panic is driving our financial institution to waste cycles on on this nonsense rather than doing what people really want it to do; manage their money.

Not to completely discount the risk of a influenza pandemic but should such a thing happen, the ability of my bank to provide good customer service for my financial services questions is going to be the least of my concerns.

On the other hand, one could conceive of a scenario wherein the banks are unable to to staff properly. The poor customer service causes people to fear that they won't be able to access their money leading to a run on the banks, a financial collapse of the American economy, chaos and anarchy.

I should write a made-for-TV movie script.

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