Pension executives and money managers along the East Coast were preparing for Hurricane Irene on Friday as the Category 2 storm, with winds of 105 mph, was expected to make landfall in North Carolina on Saturday.
The storm, which was downgraded from a Category 3 after it left the Bahamas, was expected to move up the coast, prompting warnings as far north as Massachusetts.
Marlene Petter, spokeswoman for Delaware Investments in Philadelphia, said company executives are mostly concerned with the safety of employees and their families.
“We expect flooding, no electric, no power to be the main issues that people have to deal with on Monday” in trying to get to the office, Ms. Petter said. “We're treating it sort of like when you have a snowstorm in the winter,” she said. “We're asking folks to take laptops home if they think getting to the office will be an issue.”
In Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley declared a state of emergency. In Baltimore, officials at the $37.5 billion Maryland State Retirement & Pension System weren't worrying too much about Irene, after experiencing the rarity of an earthquake earlier in the week. “We're taking the weekend off,” said MRS spokesman Michael Golden.
Mayura Hooper, spokeswoman for Deutsche Asset Management in New York, said executives there have been preparing “for a couple of days now” to ensure that the company will be able to continue operating smoothly under adverse conditions. Stringent crisis management plans are in place and hotel rooms have been booked for critical staff if needed, she said.
In Pennsylvania, Vanguard Group was “issuing regular updates to our employees about the storm, and we've got contingency plans for our facilities including our data centers,” said spokeswoman Linda Wolohan, referring to company offices in Valley Forge. Company officials made contingency arrangements to have investor calls rerouted if necessary, she said.
James A. Klein, president of the American Benefits Council in Washington, said the traumatic events of 9/11 helped his office appreciate the need to prepare for the unexpected, especially since they are just six blocks from the White House. He and his colleagues expect to be dealing with Irene at their homes over the weekend, but don't expect any surprises at the office on Monday.
Heather McDonald, a spokeswoman for Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price, said in an e-mail that the company has invoked its business continuity plan “which includes the potential use of alternative work sites as well as backup operations, technology and communications systems to maintain the level of service our clients expect.”
She said the company is urging its employees to put safety first and exercise caution.
Adam Banker, spokesman with Fidelity Investments, Boston, said his firm has plans and procedures in place to ensure that adverse weather won't stop the company from serving its customers. At the same time, to ensure the safety of employees, some will work from home and alternative office locations are available for others, as needed, he said.
Mike Dunn, a New York-based spokesman with BNY Mellon Asset Management, which has operations in both Boston and New York, likewise said his firm has contingency plans in place and will implement them as appropriate.
BlackRock said in a statement: “In anticipation of the hurricane's arrival on the East Coast, we have been mobilizing employees around the world and planning for a shift of essential operations to alternative offices beyond the storm's path, if necessary.
Bloomberg contributed to this story.