As Hurricane Ian rolled over Florida and turned toward South Carolina, financial advisors who live and work in those states were bracing themselves for difficult days ahead for their clients and themselves.

Among those advisors, Richard Ehrlich, founder of Secure Wealth Planning Group in Boca Raton, Fla., said he had just hung up a call from a client who lived on Marco Island, which took a direct hit from Ian.

“It’s rough. There’s spotty cell service, lots of flooding and damage,” he said. “When you’re talking about a potential catastrophe, a lot of the help you give your clients you give in advance, before the disaster. You have to make sure they have the right amount of insurance, and the right amount of cash on hand.”

Checking In
Other advisors spoke of hours spent preparing for the storm by checking in with clients.

“I have been texting with clients on the west coast of Florida since Monday [before the storm made landfall], just to make sure they and their loved ones are safe or have evacuated,” said Peachie Thompson, founder and CEO of Peach Insurance Services in Ponte Vedra, Fla., on the east coast of the state, where the storm’s impact was minimal.

Thompson reassured clients that the hurricane’s effect on the insurance policies she recommends will probably be minimal, too. “Life insurance carriers cannot increase premiums on existing policies,” she said, and the larger insurance carriers will likely absorb most of the damage without repricing future policies.

Supporting Families
Sally Cates, a spokeswoman for Dynasty Financial Partners, which moved its headquarters from New York to St. Petersburg three years ago, said it’s important for her firm to support families who have been impacted by the storm. Specifically, she and her team plan to “collect badly needed item such as food, baby supplies, etc., and work with the Red Cross in delivering items,” she said.

To be sure, many employees and clients lost power and have a great deal of debris to clear up. But although Hurricane Ian was the largest storm in more than a decade, hurricanes are not uncommon in that part of the country. Consequently, Dynasty has a continuity plan in place to keep the company functioning smoothly even if and when staff has to work remotely.

“Dynasty’s business continuity plan focuses on client communication, employee communication, and ensuring critical business functions have no disruption,” she said. She cited an internal emergency text messaging system and a policy to make sure that “key members of mission critical departments”—operations, technology and finance—were in a safe location with either friends and relatives or in a hotel outside the storm zone with an internet connection and electricity.

As a result, said Cates, her firm’s partners across the U.S. experienced no interruption of business.

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