Operational Resilience – Ayesha James, UK Chief Control Officer

Skyline of the City of London

UK Chief Control Officer (HOST), HSBC UK Bank plc

A lawyer by training, Ayesha currently serves as the Chief Control Officer for the Operations, Services and Technology Functions at HSBC’s UK ring-fenced bank. In this role Ayesha’s mandate requires her to consider and understand all aspects of risk and resilience and to ensure that they are controlled consistently across the entity.  Ayesha’s job is as much about culture, behaviours and psychology as it is about data and compliance. 

Prior to this role, Ayesha worked in Legal and ran the Technology Legal team for HSBC Group. Ayesha joined HSBC in 2010 from the law firm Pinsent Masons LLP, where her primary practice areas were Technology, Telecoms and Outsourcing for Banks and central Government.

Operational Resilience: what is it?

Operational Resilience is about understanding your business from the perspective of your customers and identifying how it would withstand and recover from significant disruption. This is currently a hot topic for the global Financial Services industry with Regulators around the world publishing draft Regulation and guidance on the topic that will be implemented and embedded over the coming few years. 

Beyond FS though, the principles of operational resilience are top of mind for many organisations as we continue to navigate these uncertain and disrupted times. How does your business cope with shock?  What impact does the disruption have on your customers and the wider economy? What levers are available to you to reduce that impact and confident are you in them?

What role can lawyers play?

Building a resilient business is a front-to-back, enterprise-wide activity that will require a view of all aspects of how the business operates and delivers to its customers.  Businesses will need to understand how tolerant their customers and market are to disruption and rebaseline their operations to deliver within that tolerance. 

This will require a significant shift for many organisations and lawyers will be called upon to advise on issues of collection and processing of customer data, on cooperative information sharing, to rebaseline supplier contracts. Equally, as trusted advisers and business partners, it will be important for lawyers to understand the operational resilience structures that the business is looking to establish so they can support that outcome and influence the direction and development of the strategy.

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