A global constant: LSEG Sri Lanka stood firm during Covid-19

Fadhil Jiffry Chief Financial Officer, LSEG Sri Lanka and Pulasthika Wirasinha Head of Human Resources, LSEG Sri Lanka

The London Stock Exchange Group’s Sri Lanka hub helped global financial market organisations and stock exchanges navigate unprecedented levels of volumes and volatility.

The £2.3 billion revenue London Stock Exchange Group’s Sri Lanka hub had no disruptions during the Covid-19 lockdown. Despite the global travel restrictions, teams based in Sri Lanka, and working from home, provided uninterrupted services to financial markets helping them to endure peak levels of volumes and rapid fluctuations during the pandemic’s global spread. LSEG Sri Lanka comprises LSEG Technology, the tech businesses of the London Stock Exchange Group, and the Group’s shared services company.

LSEG Technology is renowned for its engineering skills that build best-in-class technology that drives global financial markets. The company develops robust, scalable, high-performance technology including broker, exchange, market data, risk management, surveillance, clearing and settlement products to customers around the world.

The company drives operational efficiencies for over 40 financial market organisations worldwide including the LSEG’s London Stock Exchange, Borsa Italiana, Turquoise), and Hong Kong’s HKEX, Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Singapore Exchange, and others. Fadhil Jiffry, Chief Financial Officer, LSEG Sri Lanka and Pulasthika Wirasinha, Head of HR, LSEG Sri Lanka discusses how the company quickly adapted to the new normal after covid-19 to provide uninterrupted services to its many global clients.

How has Covid-19 affected LSEG Sri Lanka?

Jiffry: There has been little impact on our customers in any of the businesses we handle here in Sri Lanka. Despite extreme volatility, global markets have been active amidst the lockdowns, including all the markets covered by LSEG which remained operational throughout. LSEG Technology has continued to support global markets to handle the unprecedented levels of volumes and volatility seen during this period.

We even went live with large multi-year programs such as the rollout of a brand-new platform for the London Clearing House (LCH) on the week of the highest levels of activity ever recorded in their history. As travel restrictions came into effect, we recalled teams from supporting large projects on-site to handle them remotely. Potential clients are looking to upgrade their systems frequently to cope with volatile markets, high volumes, and ever-changing complex regulatory requirements.

This translates into a strong pipeline for us to grow further on a medium to long term basis. The Centres of Excellence in Sri Lanka serving all LSEG companies around the world continued uninterrupted. These centres provide technology services including infrastructure and application support, and non-tech services covering business operations, primary & capital markets, finance, HR, travel & administration, marketing and others. We have already seen new customers contacting us to enhance their existing infrastructure incapable of handling the scale of market volatility and volumes.

There is growing local demand for our tech and nontech resources which creates an opportunity to further expand our footprint in Sri Lanka. There are new market trends that look favourable to us.

Global markets need to get better at handling rapidly fluctuating peak volumes and ensure systems are secure. We see a shift towards cloud-based services with reduced dependency on traditional on-premise infrastructure such as data centres. Software companies are turning to automation to build, test, and deploy code.

How was LSEG Sri Lanka able to remain operational during the lockdown?

Wirasinha: We were ahead of the curve because working from home is not a new concept for us. We already had a mature WFH policy in place. This helped us quickly transition the entire team of over 1,200 people into remote working. None of our clients ever knew the difference! We provided staff with the necessary tech infrastructure and equipment to make this possible. Our priority during the lockdown was the health and safety of our employees and their families and our customers.

We also rolled out wellbeing initiatives channelled through our Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP). We take our social responsibilities seriously. LSEG Sri Lanka partnered the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and several charities to give back to society in this time of need. We donated over Rs14 million for urgently required medical equipment, the conversion of a base hospital into a Covid-19 isolation unit and essentials for frontline workers to assist in curbing the pandemic.

Our team members also raised over Rs1.4 million, with the LSEG Foundation matching this amount, to provide over 1,800 vulnerable households across the island with dry ration packs over several weeks.

With restrictions likely to be in place for a considerable period, what are the challenges around sourcing talent and collaborating across borders?

Wirasinha: LSEG is quite successful as an employer brand that offers a global career. No one is missing out on global career opportunities despite global travel restrictions. As many things have transitioned towards a virtual delivery, so have careers. We have many employees in LSEG Sri Lanka working from home and contributing towards a global delivery. During these challenging times, our collaboration efforts have had the opportunity to reach their epitome.

As a global company, we believe that we have become closer than ever. Virtual town halls host over 1,000 team members from across the globe. All HR-related functions from inductions, to learning and development, recognition programmes, mentoring and leadership chats have smoothly transitioned to a virtual platform. Patience, empathy, and a commitment towards the wellbeing of others make us an organization that cares. We even concluded a recruitment drive on our social media pages recently, which saw a steady flow of applications from potential candidates.