Northeastern municipal bond firms and their professionals adapted to developing hurricane conditions Monday.
Munis – but not many -- traded until an early close of noon.
The World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan was closed. This did not stop RBC Capital Markets, whose main U.S. office is in the center, from operating.
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the firm set up a backup center in Queens. The firm successfully used the center Monday morning for the first time, said RBC manager of municipal sales, trading and syndication Ken Friedrich.
With the New York City subway system having been shut down Sunday evening, RBC provided transportation for employees around the New York City area when needed to bring them to the Queens location.
While the professionals usually arrive at 6:30, today they arrived at 6 a.m. to make sure everything was up and running, Friedrich said. Employees had the same e-mails, phone numbers and computers as they normally do and everything worked fine.
While some RBC Capital professionals worked in Queens, others worked from home and still others worked in their normal offices in San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago. Those who worked at home did OK, Friedrich said.
“We were not fully staffed…. But we were fully operational,” Friedrich said.
Morgan Stanley also managed to continue operations on Monday. Of 20,000 employees affected by Hurricane Sandy, at least 15,000 could work on computers remotely, chief operating officer Jim Rosenthal told Bloomberg. The firm’s headquarters in New York City was open on Monday, as was an office in Westchester County, immediately north of the city.
“The firm has provided hotels nearby for staff who need them, and many employees live close enough to offices to walk to work,” he told Bloomberg.
“We are open for business on both the retail and institutional side,” Rosenthal told Bloomberg. “We are transacting business in fixed income in the U.S.”
One financial advisor firm handled the hurricane through a completely remote approach. All of Lamont Financial Services Corp.’s employees worked from home today, said chief administrative officer Kathy Yasika from her home in northern New Jersey.
Lamont Financial is located next to the Passaic River in Wayne, New Jersey. The Passaic has a history of flooding the offices, Yasika said.
In the last few weeks it set up a remote office system. During unusual situations like this one, employees can easily work from home. Those outside and inside the firm calling work phone numbers ring the employees at home. Conference calls can easily be set up.
Lamont Financial’s files are pretty much totally computer based, so being outside the normal office is easy, Yasika said.
While working from home was going well today, “It’s not something I’d want to do every day…. It is easier to walk to the next office to speak with [fellow professionals],” Yasika said.
Government offices in New York and New Jersey are closed and Lamont Financial has received virtually no outside calls today, Yasika said.
If the electricity holds up, Lamont Financial employees will probably be back in their offices on Wednesday, she said.