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Rating:Lone Star Fundsters Address Winter Storm Uri Not Rated 5.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Thursday, February 18, 2021

Lone Star Fundsters Address Winter Storm Uri

Reported by Andrew Lusk

Texas fundsters are adapting to the ongoing power and water outages, travel restrictions, and continuing cold from a shockingly southern snowstorm (Winter Storm Uri) that is still affecting the Lone Star State.

A spokesperson for Austin-based Dimensional Funds says, "The health and safety of our employees is our highest priority and we are offering additional flexibility and support for those impacted."

"Our investment operations are uninterrupted and we are well-equipped to handle an array of circumstances including inclement weather and power outages," the DFA spokesperson adds. "This is because our team-based approach and investment process are designed for resiliency with protocols for transitioning responsibilities between employees in different regions in the US and around the world as needed."

The spokesperson says, "Dimensionalís Austin office is closed given the road conditions and requests from local authorities to limit energy usage in commercial buildings. Our business continuity plan has been activated and the team is monitoring the situation closely."

Bill Day, a corporate communications manager at San Antonio-based Frost Bank (which has a mutual fund firm, Frost Investment Advisors) tells MFWire, "We are affected by the weather, as Frost is part of a financial services company, so we have banking as well as investments and insurance, with some investments done through our bank's financial centers."

"We have 155 branches across Texas," he notes, "Of those 155, about 150 of them are currently closed. We have them shut down due to lack of power, or, in some cases, they're in areas where roads are closed and they're not accessible."

"In other cases, employees are stranded because their own roads are closed," Day adds. "It is affecting us, but we're still open for business because everything that we do, we can also do online or through our app."

As for the team at Boston, Massachusetts-based Fidelity, which has a campus in West Lake, Texas, company spokesperson Michael Aalto tells MFWire, "As part of our regular course of business, we have contingency plans and procedures in place to help us manage through major weather and natural events such as the current winter storm and continue to service our customers."

"The enhanced steps we've taken during the pandemic to serve clients digitally, by video and by phone also help make a difference. As always, we are available to our clients twenty four, seven," both digitally and over the phone, Aalto adds. "Our customer service associates continue to take calls from customers; however, there may be instances of some associates being impacted because of the weather."

"In these instances," he says, "Fidelity has geographically dispersed customer service operations where calls can be seamlessly shifted to associates in one of a number of locations such as Jacksonville, Florida, Salt Lake City, Utah, or Merrimack, New Hampshire. Fidelity strategically structured our service operations to be geographically dispersed to be able to address issues such as weather. Our technology infrastructure also is geographically dispersed."

Finally, a Charles Schwab spokesperson tells MFWire that closures are to be expected as the storm wears on, but that business will continue as normally as possible. Schwab is based in San Francisco, but the high brass is planning to move the company's headquarters to Texas in the coming years. Company spokesperson confirms that 95 percent of Schwab's teams "are already working remotely due to the pandemic" and that the firm's campuses in Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth area are closed through today. (Those two campuses include about 7,000 Schwab employees.)

"We have been regularly checking in with our employees regarding their safety and any urgent issues," Peterson notes. "As needs arise, our travel department has assisted in searches for lodging and/or transportation, and directing employees to locations where heat and water can be accessed nearby. We are adjusting workloads to teams in other parts of the country so those in Texas can focus on their safety, and that of their families, first." 

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