That the year is almost over might be reason enough for money managers to put on their party hats.
The dismal performance of this year's stock market and the tragic events of Sept. 11 have left investment professionals reeling. As a result, some money managers have scaled back their holiday events and boosted gift giving. Others, however, are proceeding as planned.
In fact, some New York firms that had been housed at the World Trade Center think their employees deserve some holiday cheer. "It's important, especially at a time like this, for people to enjoy one another's company," said Ed Giltenan, global director of public relations for Citigroup Asset Management, whose 1,000 employees were displaced from their offices at 7 World Trade Center. The firm manages $400 billion in assets.
The terrorist attacks did not alter the firm's party plans or its party budget, Mr. Giltenan said. The party will be held at a Manhattan hotel he wouldn't name.
For Oppenheimer Funds, whose 598 employees escaped Tower 2 before it collapsed Sept. 11, the party will serve as a reunion. The firm has been operating in scattered temporary locations in metropolitan New York and is just now moving the employees into new offices in midtown Manhattan, said Greg Stitt, director of media relations.
"This is the first chance for people to get back together in the same place," he said. Employees will meet in an as-yet undetermined location for dinner and cocktails. Mr. Stitt said this is the company's usual type of party, with the added theme this year of reunion.
Outside of Manhattan, Janus Capital Corp. is inviting its 1,500 employees to the Denver Convention Complex for its annual holiday party, said Blair Johnson, spokesman. Mr. Johnson said the firm is planning a "cost-conscious" gathering that includes dinner and musical entertainment. He said this is the same type of party the firm has every year, eschewing lavish bashes.
The attention to costs does not represent a change in the planning of the party, said Mr. Johnson. He added the gathering "won't be lavish ... it will be appropriate for the times."
Some managers are forgoing holiday gatherings in favor of charitable giving. Evergreen Institutional Asset Management, Charlotte, N.C., which manages $179 billion in assets, is making a donation to the United Way of America that equals the cost of a party. In addition, it is not buying gifts for clients, but instead donating an equivalent sum to the United Way's September 11th Fund, established to assist the families of victims of the terrorist attacks.
"This is just our firm's small way to contribute," said Chad Peterson, senior vice president for media relations. Evergreen's parent, Wachovia Corp., lost four employees in the World Trade Center. "(It is) more appropriate ... in post Sept. 11th times to direct our resources to something that will help people get back on their feet," said Mr. Peterson.
Morgan Stanley Investment Management, New York, also is forgoing its party in favor of charitable donations. In addition to the funds that would have been spent on a holiday party, company employees will be donating time to Room To Grow New York Inc., a New York-based organization that supplies food, clothing, diapers, toys, and other essential supplies to needy children up to 3 years old, said a company official. Morgan Stanley employees already have volunteered to collect supplies for Room To Grow. The decision to skip a holiday party was made after Sept. 11, said the official.
In past years, the firm did hold parties during the holiday season, but no further details were available.
Other firms are proceeding with their annual holiday schedule as usual. Chicago-based Lincoln Capital Management, which manages $30 billion, will host holiday parties for clients and employees, but both will be "low-key" affairs, said Alec Knowles, marketing director. The lack of spectacle has nothing to do with the market's performance or national crises, he added. The firm's style is not to host grand-scale gatherings, Mr. Knowles said.
"Chicago is different than New York. You don't find people renting out Navy Pier," said Mr. Knowles.