Disaster-recovery has been high on the City's/Wall Street's agenda ever since September 11th. But what good would a disaster recovery site be if staff were frightened to come to work because they might catch bird flu ?
Now, although the possibility of an outbreak of bird flu in New York or London may only be as high as 5%, investment banks have been working hard to assess the implications of an outbreak of the disease in a main financial centre, and have been looking to find ways by which they can continue to operate. To date, only around 130 humans are thought to have contracted Avian flu, and all reported cases have been in Asia. Over half of those who got the disease, however, have died.
Firms have been investigating how, in the event of a major outbreak of bird flu, they can get staff logged on and working from home and how they can all continue to work together to prevent a financial melt-down. According to The New York Times, many banks have formed committees to examine issues like quarantining staff and the availability of antiviral drugs. Marty Evans, chairwoman of the America Red Cross and a board member at Lehman Brothers, is quoted in the newspaper, saying that 'if it's a coffee shop, you close down and just shutter it and absorb the losses. But when you are talking about a worldwide financial network, the premium, the reward, will go to the companies who figure out how to participate in that network even if a point is significantly impacted'.