Work-from-Home Reality Challenges Parts of Industry

Industry groups are seeking no-action relief from the SEC as prolonged stay-at-home orders from governmental authorities disrupt business activities. In a letter to the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets, SIFMA listed a variety of regulatory requirements that broker dealers have found challenging to accomplish remotely. Some of these tasks include obtaining manual signatures for reports to be filed with the SEC, physical processing of securities under certain regulatory timelines, and staff access to medallion stamps to validate signatures on documents.  The SEC has not yet responded to SIFMA’s no-action request, according to a Wall Street Journal article. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a memo establishing that the financial services sector is classified as a critical infrastructure sector by the Department of Homeland Security and thus workers should maintain their work schedules during the COVID-19 crisis while following federal and state health guidelines to limit the spread of the virus. The Treasury Secretary’s memo lists a number of financial services sector jobs that qualify under the critical infrastructure classification, including “workers who are needed to process and maintain systems for processing financial transactions and services, such as payment, clearing and settlement services,” among many others.  The memo said such individuals are critical to maintaining safe and efficient financial services and ensuring citizens have access to these services that are necessary to conduct their daily lives.