Hurricane, but able: Advisers work before Sandy strikes

Oct 29, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

By Liz Skinner

Hurricane Sandy
+ Zoom
((Photo: Bloomberg News))

Financial advisers along the East Coast attempted to hold conference calls and otherwise communicate with clients and money managers even as they instructed their staff to stay at home and stock trading was put off by the closing of U.S. markets.

Marjorie Fox, chief executive of Fox, Joss & Yankee, was at the office at midday today but planned to leave as winds were picking up and flooding rains had started to close some Washington, D.C., routes.

“It's picking up and I will probably be headed out in a couple hours and then hunker down at home,” Ms. Fox said. “Our office is formally closed, which we do whenever Virginia declares a state of emergency.”

The firm used social media and its website to let clients know that the office was closed today. The firm's advisers will continue to communicate with clients as long as they have charged cell phones and computers, she said.

Hurricane Sandy's heavy rains and strong winds already were causing limited power outages from North Carolina to Connecticut and utilities were recommending those in New Jersey and New York be ready to sustain seven to 10 days without electricity. In Pennsylvania and Maryland, some providers issued automated-call warnings to power customers.

The Colony Group, an advisory firm, has a few employees working from its headquarters, while most of the staff works remotely during the storm.

“All of our professionals are equipped with the necessary technology to enable them to work remotely and effectively whenever necessary,” chief executive Michael Nathanson said.

Using its customer relationship management system, the firm sent e-mails to clients who were affected by the storm to offer “best wishes” and reassure them that The Colony Group is prepared to handle such an event.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced late Sunday that U.S. equity markets would be closed Monday and the New York Stock Exchange already said it will remain closed through Tuesday.

Bond trading ended at noon EST on Monday for government securities, mortgage- and asset-backed debt, corporate and municipals. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association has recommended that these markets stay closed through Tuesday.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. said firms with offices in the affected areas of the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states should prepare to implement business continuity plans. The brokerage industry self-regulator also closed its own offices from Washington to Boston.

The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and many other Wall Street firms shifted operations to other offices unaffected by the hurricane.

As wind speeds picked up Monday, The Conference Board said it would delay until Thursday its release of the October consumer confidence report, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted that the “window for getting out safely is closing.”

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