While the Northeast begins to assess damage from Hurricane Sandy, it has pretty much been business as usual for bank advisors—or at least for their clients.
That’s the message from three of the large third-party marketers anyway. Raymond James, PrimeVest and LPL told Bank Investment Consultant that one of the benefits of an outside broker dealer is the business continuity expertise they provide. Since most of the advisors’ important data is stored and backed-up by the TPMs, the advisors are able to get help when needed or do their jobs from anywhere.
LPL Financial said that it has made business continuity planning and disaster recovery capability a high priority, according to spokeswoman Betsy Weinberger. She said the company’s scale has enabled it to build a coast-to-coast operational and technology platform that “emphasizes continuity and seamless delivery of service.”
With service centers located in San Diego and Charlotte, N.C., LPL is able to offer wide support to its advisors during a natural disaster. As such, the firm is expecting little impact from the storm.
PrimeVest, for its part, played a big role in helping approximately 80 banks and credit unions implement business continuity plans to deal with disruptions from Hurricane Sandy.
“Our first order of business Monday was communicating directly with our advisors and senior managers in the path of Hurricane Sandy to remind them of our multi-level business continuity plan and how they can implement it to continue serving their clients – even if they themselves and their branches were unavailable,” Kim Holweger, PrimeVest vice president and operations director, wrote in an email.
PrimeVest has contingency plans for both long- and short-term disruptions, Holweger explained. For lengthy business disruptions, PrimeVest has a program called “Rep-on-Demand” that can “step in and serve clients with anything from simple trade requests to complex wealth management scenarios,” she wrote.
Brian Reaser, a sales manager at National Penn Bank in Allentown, Penn., worked closely with PrimeVest and National Penn to develop a business continuity plan. The bank decided to close at noon on Monday. As part of the plan, bank reps changed their voice messages to include cell phone numbers where they could be reached. In addition, all reps and their assistants have the capability to access voice-mail and e-mail systems at work from a remote location, Reaser said in a telephone interview.
Through mid-morning, PrimeVest had knowledge of only five banks that closed on Monday.
Business continuity planning also takes precedence at Raymond James, says Senior Vice President and Managing Director John Houston, who notes that the firm is based in “hurricane-prone” St. Petersburg, Fla. In a case like Hurricane Sandy, Houston says that any advisor who is unable to field calls from clients can ask Raymond James staff to step in and do so. They won’t embark on full-scale planning without the advisor, of course, but the headquarters can take buy and sell orders. Of course, Houston notes that in this case with the markets also being closed, there’s not much call even for those types of transactions.
Like many information-driven service providers, advisors can ply their trade from anywhere. If an advisor’s bank loses power, he or she can often do their jobs remotely because they can replicate their computer desktops on their iPads. Houston also notes that if Raymond James’ headquarters were to lose power, all the data is still backed up in another location.