Florida-based broker-dealers flee Irma, setting up operations out-of-state

Raymond James activates back-up offices in Memphis, Detroit and Denver, while Kovack Securities chartered jet to fly staff to New Orleans

Sep 11, 2017 @ 2:35 pm

By Bruce Kelly

As Hurricane Irma lashed the sunshine state from its tip to its top over the weekend, business continuity plans for independent broker-dealers based in Florida kicked in, keeping the firms open for business for thousands of financial advisers.

Prior to the hurricane, Raymond James Financial Inc., with more than 7,000 financial advisers across business lines, had shifted critical business operations from its St. Petersburg campus to facilities in Memphis, Detroit and Denver in anticipation of the storm. At noon on Monday, the company said in a statement that it expected to re-open its Florida headquarters by Wednesday.

"While we assess the safety and well-being of associates and facilities impacted by the storm, we continue to operate under our business continuity protocol, which has allowed us to maintain operations and service levels at our back-up facilities," the company statement said.

Based in Miami, Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. said on its website that it had put into effect its business continuity plan for its Miami and Boca Raton, Fla., offices. Ladenburg, which owns five independent broker-dealers including Investacorp Inc., which is also based in Miami, has additional offices in New York. It has more than 4,000 reps and advisers.

"We first made sure that all employees were safe and accounted for," said Adam Malamed, Ladenburg's chief operating officer, who normally works out of Miami but was working in the firm's New York facility on Monday. "We were able to confirm that and operate through other brokerage subsidiaries. There should not be a service disruption to our advisers or the clients."

"We have heard that the building in Miami has no damage and hope it will be operating in a day or so," he added.

Kovack Securities Inc., which is based in Fort Lauderdale, chartered a corporate jet last week for 15 of its home office employees and their families and moved them to New Orleans, where they are operating the firm, using cloud-based technology, said Brian Kovack, president. The firm has 370 independent reps and advisers.

"We executed our business continuity plan and we are using the cloud," he said.

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