Although talk of the swine flu has largely been out of the media for the past few weeks, a rush of new cases of the H1N1 virus is expected to hit financial centers in the fall and winter " and organizations, and in particular hedge funds, need to be well prepared for a pandemic.
Bob Guilbert, managing director of marketing and products at Eze Castle Integration (booth 1804), which provides outsourced IT technology and services for hedge funds, says his firm has been taking a proactive approach to the pandemic.
"We've drafted our own response plan which we've issued to all our employees. The plan takes a look at if they're ill, how to get checked out; if they travel to countries with the virus, what procedures they should follow. And if the company is in a situation of a pandemic, it maps out procedures for working remotely, etc," he says.
The swine flu virus isn't waning, despite the fact that the media is now largely ignoring the epidemic.
"On June 19, a letter from the Boston Public Health Commission was published on overall awareness of the virus. It highlighted some facts with confirmed cases and had guidelines and recommendations on what people should do. We shared it with our clients," Guilbert says.
Hedge funds in particular must make sure they have a solid plan in place, he adds, since they must conduct business during trading hours. They need to assess how they are going to stay operational if the virus sidelines their employees.
"We told them to think of a disaster recovery plan to make sure they can stay active. We have given them procedures on how to gain remote access to their working environment," he said.
To avoid the spread of the virus, recommendations include having employees who are sick stay home for at least 7 days. They should then obtain a doctor's note that they are clear.
In the case of a pandemic, firms should hold meetings by conference call where possible, and ensure that all employees have remote access to their work environment.
The hedge fund industry in general is keeping a wary eye on the pandemic, Guilbert says.
But they must have a plan for disaster recovery, he underlines. They should also continue to monitor the environment where their employees operate, for any signs of illness, and periodically test their plan to make sure that if the plan must be activated, it will work.