The investment management sector has undergone a string of changes in the last decade, from technology shifts and global market expansion, to changes in fee structures and sector allocations. That doesn’t even factor in COVID-19 and its impact on businesses and the workplace. But one such investment management firm, AllianceBernstein (AB), has faced each of these changes with resilience, thriving under demanding conditions to now manage some $600 billion in assets. To help it respond to these shifting tides, AB turned to Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) for Workplace Recovery and a multi-tiered recovery strategy.
AllianceBernstein is a leading global investment management firm offering high quality research and diversified investment services to institutional investors, individuals and private wealth clients in major world markets. Headquartered in Nashville, the company’s 3,800 employees serve clients from 51 locations across 25 countries and jurisdictions.
In the finance industry, investment professionals are expected to diligently protect client assets without skipping a beat, even during turbulent times when their work environment is anything but normal. But while many companies have had business continuity plans in place for years, the COVID-19 virus upended their readiness plans and, in some cases, their ability to withstand a disruptive event.
Matthew Klimansky, Business Continuity Manager for the AB Infrastructure Risk Management Team, was faced with this very challenge in early 2020. Since AB clients expect a high level of diligence, including responding to COVID-19 challenges or any other potential disruptive Incidents, he and his team were ready with a multi-point resilience strategy to disperse traders across three workplaces, meeting continuity needs and the COVID-19 pandemic health response protocols. AB’s workplace recovery plan eased what could have been a productivity-halting experience.
With corporate offices in New York, Nashville and London, Klimansky’s team is responsible for workplace recovery solutions that span the company’s global research and investment operations. Sungard AS Workplace Recovery Centers in London, Long Island City and New York protect these business operations from the impact of disaster or disruption.
AB is no stranger to national catastrophes. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey and caused severe damage while leaving nearly two million people without power. The Sungard AS Recovery Center, located in Carlstadt, NJ at the time, provided a sheltered workplace for more than 3,000 Sungard AS customers including 100 AB employees over the course of three weeks.
“Trading is our most critical function, so we wanted to make sure it was supported in three separate areas,” he explains. “If traders at home lost power, this strategy enabled us to have traders not only in the office, but also in the Sungard AS Recovery Centre.”
Klimansky, who recently renewed his four-year contract for Workplace Recovery Services, credits Sungard AS with lessening the impact of large-scale workforce disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and other severe weather-related events.
In the New York metro area alone, three AB locations support the entire U.S. The Sungard AS Long Island City facility provides an alternate, ready-to-use emergency office environment, playing a critical role in meeting the demands of AB customers who expect recovery in the shortest amount of time. If a disruption impacts an AB site, workers can quickly relocate to the nearest recovery center. Weekly software image updates keep AB’s production and recovery environments in sync to speed productivity once employees arrive.
Designed to AB’s precise specifications, the environment includes 98 seats split into two workspaces, complete with desktops and phones, as well as Bloomberg terminals and news feeds for financial analysts and traders. The suites also include a telecom room, a canteen and a conference room with laptops for additional people.
“My Sungard AS team makes workforce transitions as easy as possible for us,” he says. “When we need them, it’s a simple phone call or email to let them know we’ll be sending people there the next day. They respond within minutes, and our space is up and running when we get there. That’s where Sungard AS really excels—in the dedication and responsiveness of the people who work there.”
A final piece of advice for other companies: test, test, test. “You might think everyone has the capability of working from home but test that capability to ensure your infrastructure can actually support them,” Klimansky advises. “That’s one of the lessons we learned early on with Hurricane Sandy. Now we know everyone globally has the capability of working from home, because that’s something we test a few times a year.”
For more information on how AB protects its clients during fair weather and foul, read the AllianceBernstein case study.