By Jed Horowitz and Jennifer Ablan
April 19 Larry Peruzzi, who runs a trading desk
at a small institutional broker in Boston, came into his office
at 7:45 a.m. on Friday and told his two-person early morning
crew to leave immediately and prepare to work from home.
The city was not yet under virtual lockdown, but police had
shot a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing overnight and a
manhunt for the second suspect was under way. On Peruzzi's drive
in, "The highway was just packed, and crawling," he told Reuters
"It was just eerie. There is low cloud cover so you can't
see the tops of the building and electronic message boards are
flashing directions and amber alerts. I'm looking out the window
and a military helicopter is flying by."
Some of the largest U.S. financial companies asked employees
in Boston to work from home on Friday, disrupting the biggest
center for U.S. mutual fund management and depressing trading
activity in some markets.
Fidelity Investments, which manages $1.7 trillion of U.S.
investment assets and is the second-biggest mutual fund company,
told employees to work from home. Other large financial firms,
including Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc,
JPMorgan Chase & Co and Manulife Financial Corp's
John Hancock unit, also asked Boston employees to work
Loomis Sayles, which manages $191 billion, had about 50
percent of its staff in the office. Many of the firm's traders
and portfolio managers had arrived before authorities widened
the travel restrictions, said Dan Fuss, vice chairman and senior
"All the traders and portfolio managers that need to be here
are here, so we did not have to activate our remote site," Fuss
said. "We've got every single desk manned, so we are fine."
Other firms reported similar staffing on trading desks.
Fuss said he left work at around 2:40 p.m. to avoid
difficulties getting home. The Boston Police Department said
earlier on Friday that they were allowing people to leave their
office buildings to go home, but encouraging them to stay inside
once home. Some workers were told that they ought to go home.
"We were told that the city would prefer employers to send
people home rather than stay in the buildings," said Kathleen
Gaffney, co-director of investment grade fixed income at fund
manager Eaton Vance.
Gaffney left around noon and drove a colleague home. She
worked from home after that.
"Amazing what you can do with technology," she said.
The impact of Boston's disruption on markets was not
outsized, strategists and analysts said. In the stock market,
volume was slightly above average, helped by the fact that
options were expiring.
Still, the change in routine weighed on trading volume in
many markets, which were already relatively slow because of the
lack of economic data. About 20 percent of the nearly $15
trillion of U.S. mutual funds and exchange-traded funds are
managed out of Boston, according to Lipper.
"A lot of folks in Boston are out of the market, and anyone
not in Boston is stuck watching the TV trying to find out what's
going on there," said Brad Bechtel, managing director at Faros
Trading, a foreign exchange brokerage based in Stamford,
A WELL-TIMED TEST
Friday was a test of the emergency plans that many firms put
into place after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Asset manager MFS Investment Management, whose Boston
headquarters on Huntington Avenue near the Prudential Center
houses more than 1,000 employees, had performed its semiannual
test of its work-from-home plan on Monday, the day of the
"It worked fine," said company spokesman John Reilly.
Traders were encouraged to work at MFS' business recovery
facility in a suburb about 25 miles (40 km) outside of the city
because it is harder for many of them to do their jobs from
home, Reilly said. The company manages about $348 billion.
At many firms, however, several people had made it to work
earlier in the morning.
A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority spokeswoman said
only a very small number of Boston employees were onsite Friday
morning, and its building closed at noon.
The industry-funded regulator has contacted all securities
firms in the area and will work with them to ensure continuity
of their business operations, she added.
Financial firms in Boston were not the only ones asking
employees to stay at home. Lawyers who work in the Boston
offices of firms including Dechert LLP, McDermott Will & Emery
and Goodwin Procter LLP were working remotely.
Electronic medical record provider Athenahealth Inc
, whose Watertown office is located on the same street
where police are camped out, instructed its 1,000 employees to
work from home, said spokeswoman Holly Spring. The company is
conducting all of its business through its Belfast, Maine,
Birmingham and Chennai offices.
The Cambridge office of EMC Corp, a global
technology company, was closed on Friday, a local employee said.
Employees in the areas locked down by the Boston police were
given the option of working from home.