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Responding to Systemic Incidents: The Sector Response Framework (SRF)

During severe operational disruption, the UK financial sector needs to be able to respond effectively, not just as individual organisations, but also as a collective. This is to ensure the continuity of operations and stable functioning of the UK retail and wholesale markets, and to prevent or minimise harm to customers and clients.
 

The Sector Response Framework (SRF) is the mechanism which facilitates this collective response in the event of severe and systemic disruption. It is a series of Sector Response Groups, FMI Crisis Committees and supporting contingencies and is also the mechanism through which the Finance Sector and the UK Authorities (HM Treasury, Bank of England and Prudential Regulation Authority, and Financial Conduct Authority) are connected during a systemic incident. It can operate at an operational, tactical and strategic level.  
 

The SRF was documented for the first time about 18 months ago through  extensive public and private sector collaboration. This documentation provides a comprehensive point of reference for the industry in describing how these groups and committees connect to facilitate sector-level coordination, information sharing and collective action.
 

Significant activity has recently been undertaken to update and improve the SRF documentation. Not only do these updates improve readability and reduce duplication, but they also provide more clarity on the types of incidents that are dealt with by each of the groups and committees within the SRF, as well as clearer guidance on the escalation protocols between the operational, tactical and strategic levels in order to minimise delays during a crisis.
 

Enhancements have also been made to support better strategic decision-making and action planning, with a new agenda aligned to a clear strategic intent focused on the most urgent priorities, and a new mechanism to hand-off technical problems for resolution to sub-groups overseen by strategic sponsorship. 


Elements of the SRF will continue to be tested during both the biennial sector-level simulation exercise (SIMEX) and through smaller, more targeted desktop exercises facilitated through the Sector Exercising Group (SEG). Learnings and improvement opportunities will continue to be identified and implemented as part of a continuous review cycle through the Sector Response Framework Working Group (SRFG) so that this vital sector capability can continue to be relied upon during a crisis in support of the broader resilience agenda for the sector.
 

The latest SRF documentation can be found here on the CMORG website (requires a secure login).  

By Rachael Dickens, Senior Service Manager, Service Delivery & Operational Resilience CoE, CTO Technology, NatWest.

 

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Rachael Dickens, Senior Service Manager
During severe operational disruption, the UK financial sector needs to be able to respond effectively, not just as individual organisations, but also as a collective.