Ensuring business continuity during a crisis – a focus on Kazakhstan

Towards the middle of February 2020, we started laying out options to ensure business continuity at the AIFC. We were conscious of the behavioural theory that shows that if you let people decide for themselves how to react, you will get two problematic trends:

  1. a majority progressively taking more risks with time; and
  2. a small minority exhibiting panic-like behaviours.

With that in mind, we articulated a policy to largely reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus in our organisation – this included social distancing, working from home flexibility and the use of rotational teams for business-critical activities such as the Astana International Exchange (AIX). Next, we conducted a stakeholder mapping exercise. While this had been done previously, it became apparent that during an emerging crisis the preferences of existing stakeholders could change, and that new not-so-obvious stakeholders could come to the fore.

After that, we created a communication plan for staff and other stakeholders to use to more effectively communicate via a variety of channels, including social media. Then we organised small virtual meetings with staff at all levels throughout the organisation and involved experts as appropriate – this activity will continue even beyond the current crisis. Finally, we moved our business activities from face-to-face to online where appropriate. Here, we leveraged expertise developed within the AIFC Bureau for Continuing Professional Development (BCPD). For more than two years, the BCPD has developed an EdTech platform to allow its students to learn at their own pace and without having to travel to Nur-Sultan. We harnessed this platform to host internal webinars and engage clients and external stakeholders independent of their geographic location. It is not perfect, but during times of crisis it is our duty to act in the best long-term interest of all our stakeholders and therefore the entire AIFC community.

In the face of this globally disruptive crisis, our business continuity policy has been designed to continue to engage our diverse stakeholders using online technology, while keeping our staff and registered companies safe.

Professor Alexander Van de Putte FCG, CDir FIoD

Chairman of Corporate Governance and Stewardship, Astana International Financial Centre

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