PALM DERSERT, Calif. - Hurricane Sandy caused major disruptions in the financial services industry. Markets were closed for an extended period of time and firms relocated their employees from locations in New York City. Some business continuity plans were put to the ultimate test and came out unscathed while others have been revised since the “Frankenstorm” hit the East coast some four months ago.

Liz Duggan, Managing Director, Global Evaluated Services, Interactive Data Corp, which provides a broad range of securities evaluations, data, and analytical tools for mutual funds, knows a thing or two about natural disasters.

During Hurricane Irene, her firm’s Boston area data center lost utility “street” power and ran on a generator for three days. When Sandy made landfall, IDC lost access to its NYC offices and had to shift its operations to temporary alternative sites in New York and New Jersey.

At the Mutual Funds and Investment Management Conference yesterday, Duggan shared a list of questions for mutual fund firms that should be asked of vendors such as IDC before another crisis hits. Her checklist includes:

• What type of work from home access does the evaluation team employ?

• How is the work from home accessibility tested for the evaluation team?

• How often?

• What metrics are maintained?

• Are geographical and transportation details maintained for the evaluation staff? How frequently are the plans updated?

• Is the evaluation team business continuity plan coordination centrally coordinated or dispersed?

• Are there workplace recovery sites (off]site facilities) for the evaluation team? Where? Permanent and/or temporary?

• What type of IT support staff is available to the evaluation team during an off]site recovery situation?

She also advised firms to review their vendor’s communication from the last business continuity plan event in terms of its accuracy, timeliness, and effectiveness. “Did it enable/support your ability to implement your own contingency planning,” she asked? “Well-defined recovery strategies and tested plans are not only necessary but vital in dealing with challenges.”

Duggan said most businesses are PC-oriented so make sure your vendors are both Mac and PC compatible.

“All plans are great but worth less the paper they are printed on unless they’re tested,” she said.

 

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