Wirehouse Firms Grapple With Office Closings In Sandy’s Wake

Register now

As Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in the U.S., wealth management operations of major financial firms including Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo have shut down certain offices to prepare for the storm, while keeping their advisors in touch with clients remotely.

Bank of America closed an unspecified number of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management offices in New York and mid-Atlantic markets on Monday, while approximately 109 Morgan Stanley Wealth Management offices spanning from Washington, D.C., to the New England region as of 9:30 a.m. Monday morning.

The office closings are just one precaution that the firms are taking in light of the storm that has forced U.S. stock markets to close into Tuesday and put residential home properties at risk for $88 billion in potential storm damage. 

“The safety and security of our employees, customers and clients are the main consideration as we closely monitor the situation, and that will help drive our decision-making,” Bank of America said in a statement. “We have processes and contingency plans in place to help manage the potential impact.”

In addition to its wealth management offices, Bank of America also closed its offices at Two and Four World Financial Centers in New York on Monday. All of the bank’s other office buildings in the metropolitan New York area are open, including One Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. Bank of America’s New York City banking centers are all closed.

An update on Bank of America’s plans for its offices on Tuesday, following Monday afternoon’s news that the markets will be closed for one more day, was not immediately available.

Morgan Stanley is keeping its client call centers open, according to a spokeswoman for the firm, while also continuing to enable those clients to check their accounts online. Morgan Stanley’s financial advisors have remote access, she said, and some have additionally provided clients with their mobile telephone numbers.

Wells Fargo Advisors is open for business, even as the firm has also closed certain branch offices in Hurricane Sandy’s path, according to a spokeswoman for the firm. For offices that are closed, the firm has put in place a buddy branch system, whereby client calls are rerouted to an open branch office.

Many other large financial firms put a partial shut down into effect for their New York area operations, with UBS booking hotels for its staff in the tri-state area, according to a Bloomberg report.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.