Advisors Coping With Gas Lines, Liquidity Needs, and Lost Homes

Friday, November 02, 2012 10:12
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Advisors Coping With Gas Lines, Liquidity Needs, and Lost Homes

Millions of Americans – including advisors and their clients – are still without power in New York, New Jersey and other states in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. But a quick survey reveals that some financial advisors and their clients are seemingly unaffected by the hurricane, while others are finding the post-Sandy days a struggle.

“All fine here in Park Slope,” says Scott Brewster, CFP, MBA, EA, the president of Brewster Financial Planning, who is based in Brooklyn. “I was able to work all week even Monday and Tuesday as I have a home office and the power, electricity, and internet have stayed on.”

Brewster reports that a co-worker had a one-way four-hour commute on Wednesday, but only an hour and forty minute commute Thursday morning. “Life is slowly returning to normalcy, but NYC has a far way to go,” he says.

For his part, Ron Palastro, ChFC, CFP, CLU of R.S. Palastro Financial Planning Services Inc., who, like Brewster, is based in Brooklyn, says “by the grace of God, we never lost power at home or in the office” though his cell phones were out until Thursday night.

And, Lauren Prince, the owner of Prince Financial Advisory, reports that she is working out of her mid-town Manhattan office with no problem.

In the extreme

And then there’s Damien Paumi, CFP, CRPC, the director of wealth management and planning for Nisivoccia in Mt. Arlington, N.J.

“As an advisor in rural N.J. we are not only coaching clients but coaching ourselves on everything from true cash management (as with the power out and merchants only taking cash) there is an order to how to spend and even making trips into neighboring states for cash, gas and unavailable items like generators or special parts for generators,” Paumi wrote in an email to me. “The basic for me are family, food, and shelter. That means making sure you family has a safe place to stay - with family, friends or even booking hotels for upwards of two weeks. Making sure that food is available.”

Paumi also says that one of the random downsides to this storm has been the gas shortages in N.J. “We are all rationing our gas and waiting in lines between two to four hours to make sure you have enough to get to and from work and for generators.”

Andy Gluck, by the way, has written about the trials and tribulations of Advisor Products and Advisors4Advisors in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Some clients faring well, others not

Advisors, meanwhile, say some of their clients are faring well in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, others not so much.

“Clients have been relatively respectfully quiet,” says Brewster. “I have reached out to those clients that I believe have been affected and have either heard back no damage, or minor damage. It is the clients who have not gotten back to me that occupy my mind.”

And Prince, for her part, says that she emailed her clients in the area of the storm and “all are fine and coping.”

By contrast, Palastro says he tried to reach out to all his clients, but, to his dismay, he was not able to immediately reach clients that he felt may have been hurt by Hurricane Sandy. “So far the clients we were able to speak to have survived although some may have lost their homes,” he says. “They have asked me to be prepared for a conversation of what assets they can liquidate if need be.”

Palastro thinks that some of his clients are still in shock and waiting for FEMA or their insurance company to let them know what the next steps will be. “Some are still trying to drain water from their basements, figure out how to get their autos replaced or where they can move for the next six months or so,” he says.

The NYC Marathon

Advisors are also weighing in on the debate over this weekend’s New York City Marathon and whether it should be rescheduled or not. Jason Gay of The Wall Street Journal, for instance, thinks the race should be postponed. “A great race has been made to feel like an awkward run from reality,” he wrote this week.

Well, we found at least one advisor agrees with Mayor Bloomberg that the race should be run, if only for its psychological benefits. Says Brewster: “I look forward to the NYC Marathon this weekend as it is always inspirational and I believe will be an appreciated psychological boost for the city.”

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Comments (1)

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Robert Powell
Editor's note: Gregg S. Fisher, CFA, CFP, President & Chief Investment Officer of Gerstein Fisher, emailed this to me after the above story was posted:

First and foremost, our thoughts are with everyone who is working to recover from Sandy’s destruction.

Given the extent of the damage the storm caused, we find it remarkable that financial markets opened again just two days after Sandy hit. At Gerstein Fisher, thanks to a combination of thoughtful planning, strong backup systems, and the hard work, dedication and ingenuity of our staff, we resumed operations seamlessly in time for the markets’ reopening. It will no doubt be a long road back to normalcy in Sandy’s wake, and we will certainly keep an eye on how this unprecedented event—and its aftermath—impacts the economy and markets in both the near- and longer-term.

We have been reaching out to all of our clients. While many are fine, others have suffered devastating results – loss of home, and power and property damage – and suffering from shortages of food and gas. We spoke with one client this morning who was frantic because her elderly parents’ home was badly damaged. While she was able to have them evacuated to a safer location in Connecticut, she was now faced with speaking with insurance companies, FEMA and banking institutions on behalf of her parents. These institutions, however, would not speak with her since she did not have any Power of Attorney on file. She asked for our guidance. We immediately called her attorney, and while the attorney was also suffering power outages we managed to reach him on his cell phone. He vaguely remembered having created the POA for the daughter and having emailed it to her. We immediately called our client back, stayed on the phone with her, and helped her search through all of her emails. She located the document and said, “That is why I love Gerstein Fisher”.

Gregg S. Fisher, CFA, CFP
President & Chief Investment Officer |
Gerstein Fisher
Robert Powell , November 02, 2012

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