But the epidemic poses a much bigger logistical headache for Wall Street — how to keep trading going if banks have to evacuate their offices to fight the spread of the illness.

Call centers face difficulties

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The call centers that serve customers of banks, insurers and other financial services firms may also face disruption.

UK call centers would manage to put only about 10% to 15% of people into a home working situation overnight, said David Freedman, the CEO of Confero.

The United Kingdom has about 6,000 call centers employing some 900,000 people, or about 4% of the workforce, he told CNN Business. About 18% of these centers serve the financial sector, with 16% serving retailers. Only about 3.5% are set up for homeworking.

As with banks, remote working poses unique challenges around security and data protection. Confero's agents handle sensitive personal data, as they field calls from the customers of insurers and credit card companies. If they work from home, it's impossible to monitor how they are managing confidential information, Freedman said.

"We don't vet our staff for what their home environment is like," he added. "Sensitive information is displayed on an agent's screen, and it's impossible for us to know who is walking into and out of a room."

Freedman, who is a board member of the Data and Marketing Association's Contact Centres Council, said the council is meeting this week to discuss the potential disruption that the coronavirus could cause call centers.

— Clare Sebastian, Eoin McSweeney and Cristina Alesci contributed to this report.