I’ll spare you yet another “Business Continuity Plan” email. You’ve no doubt gotten dozens of those by know from everyone from your banker to the local donut shop. You don’t need another one from me.
That said, the Covid-19 lockdowns have been an interesting experience in seeing an business continuity plan in action. It’s nice to know your plan actually worked when it needed to.
All About the Cloud
I moved all of Sizemore Capital’s critical functions to the cloud at firm inception. I was using the cloud before “the cloud” even existed as an expression. I simply couldn’t imagine running a company any other way.
Sizemore Capital was founded in 2008, and from day one all critical files were archived online. Today, I don’t archive online. The active files actually live online via Microsoft’s business version of OneDrive.
I can access my files from any computer in the world with an internet connection. If my hardware conked out on me today, I could have a new computer expressed delivered to me and be back in business in short order. Or, if that wasn’t possible due to coronavirus delays, I could even run the company for extended periods of time from my phone. It’s not ideal. But I could do it.
We’ve been calling clients, trading client accounts, meeting redemptions, wiring funds and doing all of the things you expect money managers to do… uninterrupted.
Communication With Key Personnel
As I write this, I’m stuck on a ranch in rural Peru and likely will be for another couple weeks. I was in Peru prospecting when all hell broke loose and they shut the country down. The airport is closed until after Easter.
It’s barely slowed me down. I’ve had minimal service interruptions and have been able to carry on remotely more or less as if nothing had happened.
My partners are geographically spread out. One is in Dallas, one is in Houston, one is in San Francisco and one is in Lima, Peru. We’re accustomed to communicating remotely, so this hasn’t been much of an adjustment.
I find face to face meetings to be a lot more valuable and productive. But if I get stuck on the ranch for months and my partners are stuck in their respective locations for months, we can keep this up. Indefinitely.
I haven’t had access to my office for a few weeks, and I know I have a few undeposited checks sitting in the office mailbox. It may be a while until I’m able to deposit those. But I would emphasize that those are not client checks. Client funds are deposited directly with the custodians we use, and that service has not been interrupted.
So, the worst that has happened is that I have been unable to pay myself a handful of checks.
I don’t have a lot of sympathy for firms that weren’t ready for this. Sure, few people saw coronavirus happening. I certainly didn’t. But it doesn’t matter. Look at the natural disasters that seem to be happening every other day: hurricanes, floods, tornados, etc.
If you weren’t already prepared for widespread business disruptions… what exactly were you waiting for? The tools have been around for over a decade now.
Clearly, there are industries that simply couldn’t prepare for this. If you’re a barber, a dentist, a bartender, a dry cleaner or another number of other professions that require face to face contact, there was really nothing you could do about this. Zoom and Skype aren’t particularly useful in these cases.
But to paraphrase an old Warren Buffett quote, now that the tide has gone out, it’s time to see who was swimming naked.