There was no escape.
The money management community, seemingly so privileged, was not spared in the terrorist hijackings of four commercial airplanes and crashing of three of them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, symbols of America's financial and military strength.
Lives were lost, offices and records were destroyed, and thousands of investment professionals were stranded across the country. Now, managers are implementing backup plans and working to aid New York City's overtaxed emergency workers.
Christopher Bower, chief executive officer of the Pacific Corporate Group, La Jolla, Calif., was heading for a 9: 30 am meeting at Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. in the World Trade Center's South Tower when a colleague called to tell him that a plane had hit the other tower. Urged to reschedule the meeting, Mr. Bower eventually relented.
As a private equity consultant to both New York City police and fire pension funds, Mr. Bower realized he knew many emergency officials on the scene. He bought 100 sandwiches and bottled water and attempted to deliver them to the emergency crews. But Federal Bureau of Investigation agents stopped him at 23rd Street, and he handed the food to them.
Two days after the tragedy, Mr. Bower keeps repeating he felt "helpless" at the time.
"I just happened to be a bystander who couldn't do enough. I just feel terrible," he said. Now, his firm will raise contributions from private equity firms to help families of deceased police officers and firefighters.
While the firestorm that followed the crashing of the jets took thousands of lives, most money managers working in the World Trade Center were able to escape the inferno. One notable exception was at Fred Alger Management Inc. Thirty-six of its 55 World Trade Center employees remained unaccounted for on Friday, including Chief Executive Officer David Alger.
Fred Alger, chairman of the firm, came out of retirement to assume day-to-day management in place of his missing brother. In addition, Dan Chung, senior vice president and senior analyst, has been named chief investment officer of the growth manager, which runs $16 billion in assets. Joe Metta, head trader, was in the lobby at the time and escaped. The firm is operating from its Morristown, N.J., office, where administrative, marketing and fund pricing functions were based.
Consultants and clients joined a Sept. 13 conference call with Fred Alger in which Mr. Alger reassured clients the company will do all it can to resume normal money management operations and hire replacements. But with five of the six key members of the portfolio management team missing, consultants are quietly trying to assess what they should recommend to clients.
Other financial services firms also suffered. For example, Karleton Fyfe, 31, a senior analyst with John Hancock Financial Services, Boston, was headed to Los Angeles on business on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center.
Firms displaced by the inferno or losing employees include:
* Fiduciary Trust International, located on the 90th, 94th, 95th, 96th and 97th floors of the South Tower. Officials there said 90 employees in the building were missing, but most others - including Anne Tatlock, chairwoman and chief executive officer, and Bill Yun, president - are fine. Meanwhile, the firm, which has $47.2 billion in assets under management, moved to backup facilities in New Jersey.
* OppenheimerFunds, with 598 employees on the 34th to 36th floors of the South Tower. All employees escaped unharmed, said company spokesman Ricardo Davis. The firm is operating from an undisclosed location in New Jersey, and is seeking a permanent site.
* Deutsche Asset Management, located adjacent to the World Trade Center at 130 Liberty St. Dean Barr, chief investment officer, said most of its nearly 600 employees made it to safety, but some are still not accounted for. The firm is using its parent bank's backup center in Piscataway, N.J., and hopes to nail down office space in midtown Manhattan sometime this week.
* Morgan Stanley Asset Management, whose parent was the largest WTC tenant with more than 3,500 employees, had transferred a number of employees to midtown locations in previous months, said Andrea Bottomley, spokeswoman in the firm's London office. A spokesman for the parent, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., said 40 employees from 22 floors still were missing.
* Friends Ivory & Sime, which had marketing and client service offices on the 21st floor of the North Tower, had all of its staff evacuated and accounted for, said Vanessa Codling, spokeswoman. The offices were relocated to Madison Avenue.
* Bank One, which still is trying to track down its 400 associates spread through the World Trade Center, said spokesman Brad Russell. He did not say how many of them are in the bank's money management unit.
* William M. Mercer Consulting, where all 88 employees in the World Trade Center have been accounted for. Mercer's parent, Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., New York, had accounted for more than 1,300 of its 1,700 employees based in the twin towers.
But it's the individual stories that are most heart-rending.
Lynn Goodchild, a 25-year-old plan administrator at Putnam Investments, Boston, was flying to Hawaii on vacation with her boyfriend when her plane was hijacked and subsequently crashed. She oversaw administration of the IBEW Local 3 plan in New York. "She was a very special person, beautiful inside and out," said Putnam Vice President Sarah Bajjaly, her supervisor. "She had many close friends among her co-workers and her love of life was an inspiration for us."
Meanwhile, attendees of a financial technology conference at Windows on the World, atop the North Tower, have not been heard from. Conference sponsor Risk Waters Group said 53 delegates and 16 staff attended the conference and remain unaccounted for, while the London-based company continues to seek information on another 45 delegates who might not actually have attended the conference. Among the missing are an administrative employee from Jennison Associates LLC, a money manager in New York.
But the impact on the money management industry - the real test - won't occur until the U.S. stock markets reopen, scheduled for Sept. 17.
A statement signed by directors of 33 state and teacher retirement systems expressed confidence in the American financial markets and called on investors to remain calm when the markets reopen. "We, as institutional investors, will continue to provide stability in the U.S. financial markets," the statement said.
"I think this will be the true test of disaster preparedness," said Jeffrey McLean, president of Wurts Associates LLC, Santa Monica, Calif. "This will show the extent to which the institutional investment marketplace is truly prepared to deal with catastrophe."
Still, the human scope of the tragedy will stay with victims for years.
Deutsche's Mr. Barr said that when the first plane hit, he was on the 29th floor of his building, attending a videoconference of his firm's investment committee meeting involving nine different groups. "We ran out because we thought it was a bomb," he said. But security people advised Deutsche employees to remain inside because of the risk of being hit by debris.
Returning to his office on the 35th floor, Mr. Barr saw the second plane hit, blowing out the windows on his floor. Security personnel marshaled everybody to the center of the building, and evacuated them.
"People were dazed. It was an absolute nightmarish experience," he said.
The first thing Deutsche executives did was ensure the safety of the company's workers. Then Mr. Barr made sure the firm would be fully functional and ready to trade; nearly a dozen portfolio managers and traders were readied to move to Deutsche's London office. And then the company officials dealt with the office space situation, "since 600 people don't have a desk," Mr. Barr said.
Virtually every company related to the money management business was disrupted by the terrorist actions.
Conferences across the country were canceled or ended prematurely (see story above). People in the money management community spend huge chunks of time on airplanes. Now, they're worried a rumored ban on bringing laptop computers on board will harm their productivity.
Many investment professionals on business trips were stuck. Jeff Nipp, head of investment research at Watson Wyatt Investment Consulting, Atlanta, had gone for a "real quick trip" to Los Angeles to visit a couple of managers, "but it has turned into a somewhat longer trip," he said, while he awaited resumption of airline schedules.
Meanwhile, his colleagues Brian Hersey and Jean Murphy had met with a client, the Florida College Prepaid Program, in Miami. They rented a car and drove home.
At press time, Pacific Group's Mr. Bower still was in New York. He had gone to Kennedy airport in hopes of catching a flight back to Los Angeles. While waiting at a gate, he witnessed agents from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and from U.S. Customs storm a plane, brandishing guns and arresting three people.
A shaken Mr. Bower returned to his hotel room in Manhattan. He said: "I feel like I'm having to look over my shoulder, which is a feeling I never wanted to have in my own country."