With the London 2012 Olympic Games approaching the starting line, many of the city's investment managers are readying contingency plans to handle the expected diversions along the way.
But there's also some fun and games in store during the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics, being held a stone's throw from Canary Wharf and the City of London — one of the world's top financial centers.
At Northern Trust Corp., for example, employees were invited to a sports day on July 17-18 to encourage “employees to create teams and get into the spirit of the games,” according to Wilson Leech, London-based CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Northern Trust. The “knockout-style” tournament featured teams of 10 to 12 employees competing in events such as “Bungee Biathlon,” “Shot Put Relay” and “The Lighting of the Torch.” Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded at the end of the tournament.
Elsewhere, the fifth floor of BlackRock Inc.'s London headquarters will be transformed into a mini “Olympic Village” between noon and 2 p.m. during the Olympics, said Jonathan Mullen, London-based managing director and head of communications for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Competition in rowing (albeit on rowing machines), table tennis and table football, among other “sports,” are being planned with some of the company's higher-ranking executives participating. They include Chris Leonard, managing director and head of human resources for the EMEA region at BlackRock, who represented Great Britain at the 1996 World Rowing Championships and 1997 World Cup regattas. He'll face Alex Hoctor-Duncan, head of retail for the EMEA region, in the rowing event, according to a staff invitation from BlackRock's EMEA People & Culture Committee. On Aug. 10, medals will be awarded to those with the best scores.
“We're trying to balance between the need to maintain a business-as-usual environment with the realization that this is a once-in-a-generation event happening on our doorstep,” said Mr. Mullen, who decided to purchase a bicycle earlier this month in order to cycle to work during the games.
Expected to attract an estimated 5.3 million people to the city, the London Olympics “is unusual compared to previous (Olympic Games) in the sense that it's being held in one of the most confined areas closest to one of the world's largest financial districts,” said Simon Jones, senior product marketing manager at IPC Systems Inc., London, which provides trading technology and network services globally to investment banks, brokerages and money managers including hedge funds.
Compared to previous Olympic Games in recent times, “the risk of disruption to the financial sector is higher,” Mr. Jones said.