Sometimes being prepared and putting together the right plan to have cash available during a disaster comes down to the basics—like being able to turn the lights on (have electricity) and there are things FIs can do to prepare for the worst – let’s face it, we don’t really keep cash under the mattress so the need for FIs to get their infrastructure back up and running fast is perhaps more critical today than ever before.
Backup plans for power: One of the most common problems that comes with any natural disaster is loss of power. That’s why FIs should plan on losing power and have backup contingency plans in place. North Jersey Community Bank showed they knew what they were doing well ahead of Hurricane Sandy (2012). Even though they were a small bank, they made a large investment in a secondary operations center that performed just as their main branch did—with servers, a phone system, internet and more all up and running years before Hurricane Sandy hit.
Rely on ways to monitor the situation. The devices in your ATMs that are connected to the internet should make it easier to monitor how your channel is functioning—and then you can get the information out to your customers. The ones that aren’t communicating with the internet will likely be located in areas where there isn’t any power. Put in place monitoring plans for not just your ATMs and other operations, but also how you’ll determine which customers need assistance and how, in general, you can connect with them during a crisis.
Plan for an increase in cash in transit (CIT) costs. Like North Jersey Community Bank, you could have a backup plan for where you store your cash. If your main location is affected but one of your other branches or centers is up and operating, you can have cash transferred to the affected area. It may mean paying more for CIT, but if you factor it in to your disaster plan you may come out ahead—your customers who can get the cash they need definitely will.
Make a plan that relies on being speedy. Time is truly of the essence during a natural disaster—people who cannot get even the basics because they don’t have any cash understand that. So the plan you put in place should consider that at every turn. One of your guiding questions to any suggestions may be “Will that speed things up?” And if it’s feasible and the answer is “yes” it goes into the plan.