Government identifies financial sector as essential service

by Roxanne Libatique26 Mar 2020

With New Zealand now in COVID-19 (coronavirus) Alert Level 4, the government has identified the financial sector as one of the essential services for Kiwis. Therefore, brokers, banks, and other financial institutions are expected to continue supporting their clients.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) revealed that the Council of Financial Regulators (CoFR) has been communicating with the government to outline the details of essential financial services to ensure that it would be able to continue operating its financial system.

“Banks and non-bank deposit takers will have the ability to continue to support customers, as applicable – with access to deposits and credit, ATMs for cash withdrawals, credit/debit cards, EFTPOS, foreign exchange, domestic and international payments, and process cheque,” the RBNZ explained. “Advisers are expected to work from home or engage with clients over the telephone/internet.”

Read more: Government backs interest rate drop to support economy

The RBNZ suggested that financial services firms should decide what operations and infrastructure are crucial to maintain customer service and support the financial system amid the pandemic, including engaging with the government and regulators as appropriate.

“While we expect some functions will be able to be performed remotely, a [few] staff may be required to be onsite. Firms should keep these numbers to an absolute minimum and maintain physical distancing protocols,” the RBNZ said.

“Financial advice is not covered by definition from the government of workplaces/offices that need to remain open, but it clearly remains an important service. [We expect] that most financial advisers should be able to work from home, with no need to staff offices.”

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