Stability in Times of Crisis – How SIX Ensures the Continuity of Its Business

Stability in Times of Crisis – How SIX Ensures the Continuity of Its Business

SIX is the backbone of the Swiss and Spanish financial centers, and its services are essential to both economies. The Business Continuity Management unit at SIX ensures the availability of these services – even during times of crisis.

Switzerland is deep in the clutches of Omicron. The case numbers have never been so high here. According to the experts from the Federal Office of Public Health, Switzerland may currently be at the peak of the ongoing wave. The number of people who have to be placed in isolation or quarantine continues to increase. Spain is also currently reporting high case numbers. Roughly 130,000 infections are being recorded there every day.

SIX operates the infrastructure of the Swiss and Spanish financial centers, consisting of the trading platform for exchange, the central counterparty for clearing, securities settlement, and payment transactions. These services are essential, not only for individual companies, but for the economy as a whole in both Switzerland and Spain. The continuity of these services must therefore be ensured at all times.  

Protection Plans Have Stood the Test

The Business Continuity Management (BCM) unit at SIX is responsible for ensuring that business processes and services continue uninterrupted. The BCM program includes preparation for the following scenarios: loss of one or more buildings, loss of IT systems, loss of service providers and suppliers, and -- pertinent to our current situation – loss of staff due to corona-related absences.  

Even before the Covid 19 outbreak began, SIX had considered a pandemic scenario as a realistic risk. In summer 2018, crisis management staff conducted an exercise to verify and revise the pandemic plans that had been prepared in 2016. The scenario envisaged at that time was a pandemic that reduced the SIX workforce by 20 percent. The general objective of such exercises within crisis management is to identify potential weaknesses, and to address them promptly.

About a year later, when the pandemic scenario became a reality, SIX was therefore positioned to react quickly and implement the relevant protection plans. “Our global pandemic and protection plans have stood the test. Throughout the current pandemic, no services have failed,” says Beni Hurschler, who is responsible for business continuity and physical security at SIX, and who has led the operational corona taskforce.

Stable and Secure Services

And SIX is prepared for the peak of Omicron as well. “Currently, the majority of staff work from home. Where it’s necessary for work to be done on site, employees work in what is known as split-operation mode, where they’re in different locations working within strictly compartmentalized teams so that redundancy can cover any potential disruptions,” Hurschler adds. A shutdown of certain operations is not an option – and thanks to the appropriate measures, unnecessary. “With our current Loss of Staff plans, we have the time-critical processes of SIX completely covered,” Hurschler says.

Thus, despite the high number of Omicron cases, measures are in place to ensure that the infrastructure of the Swiss and Spanish financial centers is running smoothly. Beni Hurschler provides the following reassurance: “Our services are robust, they’re stable, and they’re secure.”