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Home>Research & Insights>Investment Insights>Houston-Area Fund Firms Soldier on Through Harvey

Houston-Area Fund Firms Soldier on Through Harvey

All were well-prepared for the storm.

Morningstar Analysts, 08/31/2017

It was business unusual for Houston-based mutual fund families this week. Tropical Storm (formerly Hurricane) Harvey poured havoc and destruction on America's fourth-largest city, but money managers that Morningstar has been able to contact reported that they have thus far been able to implement backup plans to continue serving clients. 

Harvey's unprecedented deluge has tested Invesco's business-continuity plans in recent days, but those efforts have so far appeared effective. All of Invesco's Houston-area employees are safe and accounted for, the company reported. About 1,500 of Invesco's 7,000 employees are based in the Houston area, the firm's largest concentration of workers.

In addition to housing key areas such as fund administration and technology, Invesco investment teams based in Houston include its U.S. value, U.S. growth, and investment-solutions teams. While its main office building remains closed, the firm's multipronged business continuity plan has resulted in certain key functions being taken on by other offices and employees working remotely and from alternate sites.

Invesco continues to monitor conditions as it decides when it can safely reopen its office. While it sustained no flood damage, area streets remain impassable. In the meantime, we remain in contact with the firm and believe that Invesco fundholders should experience minimal impact. The events have not led to any changes to Invesco funds' Morningstar Analyst Ratings.

Gentry Lee, CEO and CIO of Houston-based Fayez Sarofim & Co., the subadvisor of Bronze-rated Dreyfus Appreciation DGAGX, said that the firm has been very fortunate. Fayez Sarofim & Co. was able to enact its disaster recovery plan, which included shifting critical business operations to Austin, Texas, where it maintains a backup office. (The firm's performance, trading, portfolio accounting, and other data are continually backed up to an SEI facility in Oaks, Pennsylvania.) All of its more than 100 employees are personally safe; four have suffered significant property damage--two have flooded homes and two lost cars--but the firm has been able to continue investing and serving its clients. "Businesswise, it has not had much of an impact," Lee said. Lee said at least some employees will probably work from Austin or remotely for the rest of the week, but expected the Houston office to be almost at regular staffing on Thursday.

Lee said there was no flooding and the power was still on at its office building in Houston, but that it was extremely difficult to get to the office because of flooded roads, inoperable public transportation, and a lack of building and maintenance staff. "The issue is getting employees there," he said.

Bridgeway Capital Management, the advisor to the Bridgeway funds, says its Houston-based business has also not been interrupted by the storm. "Bridgeway has been very fortunate," head of marketing Tony Ledergerber said. "Most importantly, our people are accounted for and safe. We did have a few partners experience mandatory evacuations, and it is still unknown how their homes will fare. [But] we are open for business and are working diligently to ensure we continue to provide a high level of service to our clients." 

Ledergerber said that prior to the storm, Bridgeway positioned key personnel in Dallas, where its disaster recovery site is located. The Houston office, where production servers are located, never lost power, and the firm has backup diesel generators for those Houston servers as well as the ability to quickly switch to backup servers in Dallas should something fail in Houston. But streets near its Houston office remain accessible.



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