Firms deal with displacement

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In a show of resilience, New York’s leading b-to-b financial, technology and consulting companies have emerged strongly from the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Top financial companies—including Inc. and Capco, both of which were temporarily evacuated from their headquarters near ground zero—are now operating at near-normal capacity. Others, including Bloomberg L.L.P., whose Park Avenue headquarters were never evacuated, have also bounced back by concentrating on aiding displaced financial clients.

All companies based in the area are dealing with unprecedented business challenges. Some, including Merrill Lynch & Co., Deutsche Bank AG, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. and Garban Intercap, have still not returned to their downtown Manhattan offices—and they may not for the foreseeable future.

Complicating matters further, these companies are also marketing in the most troubling Wall Street environment in decades, one where getting clients to concentrate on software and e-business platforms is difficult.

"The fundamental issues are chaotic at this point. It’s very hard to get people to focus," said Charles Wendel, president of Financial Institutions Consulting Group. "The smell is still here in Manhattan. It’s not like it’s behind us."

Multex, a marketer of investment information and Internet software to investment banks, was temporarily evacuated from its headquarters at 100 William St. Its office is a short walk not only from the World Trade Center site but also from many of its top clients who also were displaced by the attacks.

After several days of operating from a makeshift headquarters on Long Island, Multex returned and focused on getting back to as normal a business routine as possible.

The company is now concentrating on helping big clients reschedule technology project launch dates. Those clients include Merrill Lynch, which is temporarily headquartered in Jersey City, N.J., because its World Financial Center headquarters is still shuttered.

Multex is toning down its marketing communications out of respect for its clients, many of whom are keen on getting back to business as usual but are finding it hard to do so. "From a marketing perspective, our message has been: We’re here, we’re back, and we’re looking forward to discussing initiatives, but we realize we need to do that in due time," said Chris Feeney, COO.

Capco connects

E-finance consultancy Capco’s offices, adjacent to the World Trade Center, were temporarily closed, and for several days the company worked from offices of one of its investors. But now Capco is slowly returning to normal operations.

"From a business point of view, all of our client activity is up and running again," said Joe Anastosia, chief client partner. He added that Capco is developing contingency plans to protect the company and its marketers from future calamities.

"There are new thoughts on human skills, skills you can’t replace with a backup computer," Anastosia said. "How do you protect your people? How do you protect against intellectual capital loss? We’re giving people information on how to leave the building, how to seek out help. And we’re not unique. Most firms are doing that now."

Capco is also preparing to market a risk management service meant to help companies with disaster recovery planning. "In the new dawn of risk management, we’ve learned a message about how vulnerable we can be," Anastosia said.

Bloomberg’s free space

Bloomberg, whose Park Avenue headquarters remained open following the attacks, has offered office space to displaced b-to-b clients, including Garban Intercap, a bond broker whose headquarters were on the 25th and 26th floors of World Trade Center tower one. Bloomberg is providing free space, along with desks, phones and terminals, to 150 Garban traders. "This part of the experience has been terrific," said Don Marshall, a board director at Garban.

Bloomberg views this temporary hosting of clients, including Morgan Stanley, as a way to build ties. "There’s a business aspect to it," said Chris Taylor, a Bloomberg spokeswoman. "Garban now has 70% of its trading business back. It’s been tremendously good for relationship building."

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