US firms brace for historic blizzard

Heavy snowfall in the US Northeast may prompt many private fund professionals to work from home on Tuesday as well as test firms’ business continuity planning.

A major snowstorm for the US Northeast Monday through Tuesday night, lingering into Wednesday morning, is prompting private investment firms to encourage staff to work remotely until conditions improve. 

In advance of Winter Storm Juno, governors in five states – Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island – have declared states of emergency. 

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned residents not to take the storm lightly. 

“Prepare for something worse than we have seen before. Prepare to be safe. Take every precaution,” he said at a press conference on Sunday. “Now is the time to get ready for this extreme weather.”

A number of private investment firms contacted Monday about their plans for the inclement weather said offices will remain open but they are encouraging staff to consider their safety before braving the weather. 

StepStone, The Carlyle Group, Neuberger Berman and Landmark Partners plan to open their New York offices on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Partners Group said the firm will allow staff to leave around noon on Tuesday. KPS Capital Partners is taking a “wait and see approach,” said KPS chief financial officer Stephen Hoey, who added staff received an email on Sunday about preparation for extreme weather-related events written by its IT and cybersecurity consultants. 

A spokesperson for Landmark said staff across its Boston, New York and Simsbury, CT offices rescheduled their travel plans to avoid the storm. 

Not all firms will allow staff the option to come into work. Newbury Partners, based in Stamford, CT, will be closed on Tuesday. 

“We have never done this in the past even with hurricane Sandy. Our policy is usually to allow people to decide what makes sense for them given different travel conditions from the various location where people live,” a spokesperson for the firm said. 

The storm will test GPs’ business continuity and disaster recovery planning, which regulators made a focus area after Hurricane Sandy, one of the costliest hurricanes in US history, disrupted financial markets along the East Coast in late 2012. 

StepStone has been testing its emergency contact system ahead of the storm, a spokesperson for the firm said. At The Riverside Company, technology was created to allow employees to use their office lines from home, said the firm’s chief information officer, Eric Feldman, in an interview with pfm. The firm also stores its data offsite with a third party service provider, allowing staff to access work documents from home.

“Riverside has invested in an infrastructure to create a mobile workforce. With virtual and remote connectivity tools, as long as employees have internet, they can securely gain access to their files,” said Feldman. 

Katherine Bucaccio and Chelsea Stevenson contributed to this report.