Isaac just another day at the office for Gulf Coast advisers

Toughened locals keep on working through Category 1 hurricane; 'business as usual'

Aug 29, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

By Darla Mercado

Hurricane Isaac
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Plenty of damage ((Photo: Bloomberg News))

Power outages and torrential rains forced some Gulf Coast advisers to shut down their offices, but a number of them have decided to keep working in spite of Hurricane Isaac.

Roland T. Doubleday, an adviser at an eponymous firm in Metairie, La., was unable to get into the building where his office is located. Instead, he decided to work remotely, about a mile away, running his laptop on a generator, due to a power outage. The phone at Mr. Doubleday's office routes calls to his cell phone, so he's been able to respond to clients.

“I'm just waiting it out,” he said. “We've been through this before. The clients in the area are used to it and will call or text if they need something. For the interim, it's business as usual.”

Adviser H. Jude Boudreaux of Upperline Financial Planning LLC is also still open for business, albeit six hours away from his New Orleans office. He evacuated his family to a hotel room in Houston, notifying clients of his availability on his mobile phone and via e-mail.

Though Hurricane Isaac isn't bringing the same kind of devastation that hit the area seven years ago when Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast, local advisers say they learned from their 2005 brush with the ferocious Category 3 storm.

Mr. Boudreaux recalled having to physically collect his computers and servers from his office after Katrina. “I learned many lessons from that,” he said. “The technology has come a long way in seven years.” These days, his office is “nearly paperless,” and data are stored on servers that aren't near New Orleans. Anything that's on paper is locked and secured in water-resistant filing cabinets.

Christine Brown, chapter executive of the Financial Planning Association of Greater New Orleans, noted that nearly all of the members closed their offices for the day and were prepared to weather the storm. “Our members had gone through Katrina and came through beautifully as far as their offices,” she said. “I didn't have the same apprehension with this storm.”

Mr. Boudreaux, who grew up in Lockport, La., remembers riding out hurricanes while growing up. These days, packing up to work remotely isn't so much about avoiding an inconvenience to himself, but rather being totally available to clients should an emergency arise. “If there's a power outage, I can suffer without air conditioning, but I'll be useless to my clients if I can't communicate with them and serve them,” he said.

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