To Our Clients and Business Partners:
At Lord Abbett, we believe we are well prepared to continue our business operations in the event of unforeseen situations, including the current coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. In fact, we have long-established plans in place that are reasonably designed to ensure that we can uphold our commitment to deliver a client experience that exceeds expectations.
Operating from a Foundation of Preparedness
Over the last several years, we have thoughtfully planned for the future and taken deliberate steps to design a program intended to ensure that our organization can operate without disruption in today’s rapidly-changing environment. As part of these actions, we have instilled in our culture practical solutions that allow our people to operate in any environment. These actions include:
- Creating a principles-based environment built on trust that empowers our people across the firm to use their best judgment and make informed decisions.
- Launching flexible workplace principles that allow our people, especially our investment professionals, to work remotely and operate efficiently whenever necessary.
- Enhancing our technology infrastructure throughout the organization, providing all employees with remote access to their computer desktops through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), videoconference capabilities, and mobile access to their individual telephone lines. These tools allow employees to work remotely for an extended period of time, if needed.
From an operational perspective, we have established a consolidated risk team that reports directly to me. This group is led by Stacy Allen, Partner, Chief Risk Officer, who oversees all of our risk management capabilities, including our Business Continuity Planning (“BCP”). This ensures that our business continuity and disaster recovery plan is inclusive of all our business activities and employees. As part of these efforts, we have the following resources in place:
- Our BCP facility in Morristown, New Jersey, from which employees in critical functions can operate remotely.
- Our firm-wide intranet, VantagePoint, that enables rapid communication of important alerts, information, and resources to our employees around the world from both their desktop and mobile devices.
- Our rapid-response Crisis Management team, which includes senior leaders from Enterprise Risk, Investments, Client Services, Legal, Human Capital Management, and Corporate Communications.
Responding to the Covid-19 Outbreak
In keeping with our well-established BCP protocols, we continue to actively monitor the Covid-19 outbreak and its potential impact on markets, our clients, and our people. Our Enterprise Risk team remains vigilant in monitoring the situation and taking appropriate actions in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer and other senior officials of the Jersey City Medical Center. Our Crisis Communications team continues to provide updates to the organization as developments unfold.
In addition, as part of our approach to managing risks across our investment portfolios, our Investment Risk Management team regularly runs stress tests to analyze how portfolios may react to various scenarios. This includes a global pandemic scenario analysis, which is designed to provide a deeper understanding of potential portfolio impacts associated with the current COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation as the details evolve.
In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, we have also taken the following actions to safeguard the health and well-being of our employees and their families:
- Investment Teams - To minimize the risk of a possible health-related disruption to our investment teams, we have separated our investment teams, thoughtfully assigning investors from each of our equity and fixed income teams to one of three locations: our office in Jersey City, our BCP facility in Morristown, New Jersey, and their individual homes. We are confident that we have the necessary infrastructure and communication in place to allow each team to effectively operate across multiple locations.
- Travel - Initially, we placed a restriction on all non-essential international business travel and travel to specific areas with increased infection rates as designated by the CDC. As of March 9th, we have restricted all travel-related activities to those deemed essential and pre-approved by a member of the Firm’s Steering Committee. For any employee who has traveled internationally to highly affected areas designated by the CDC, whether for business or personal reasons, or has otherwise been exposed, we have implemented a 14-day self-quarantine before returning to the office. We have encouraged employees to utilize technology to work remotely and stay in contact with their teams and clients through videoconferencing and other means.
- Visitors - We are limiting visitors to our offices to those deemed essential and pre-approved by a member of the Steering Committee.
- Office Sanitation & Hygiene - We have increased the frequency of cleaning of common areas, including elevators, conference rooms, lobby, restrooms and reception areas. We have distributed personal hand-sanitizer to all employees in Jersey City and have installed additional hand sanitizer dispensers in common areas throughout the building. In addition, we have implemented increased sanitation and hygiene protocols in our café and food service area, which was recently awarded the highest rating that can be awarded by the New Jersey Department of Health.
- Vigilance Regarding Potential Exposure - We urge all employees to use their best judgment in interactions with individuals who may have been exposed to Covid-19, and to rely on email, phone, or videoconference rather than in-person meetings. In addition, we urge employees to proactively communicate with their leaders about any contact or travel, whether business or personal, that could expose them or their families to Covid-19. Any employee who has had contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus is required to contact Human Capital Management and self-quarantine for 14 days in accordance with CDC protocol.
- Encouraging Sick People to Stay Home - As a general principle, we encourage employees to use their best judgment and stay home if they have a fever, are experiencing flu-like symptoms, or believe they may be contagious.
- Remote Work Preparedness - We have encouraged all employees to prepare to work remotely to ensure that they are ready in the event of a long-term displacement. We encourage collaboration among colleagues to ensure continuity of critical business functions when working remotely.
- Ongoing Communications - We continue to meet with the firm’s Partners and leaders, while providing timely, firm-wide communications about our responses to the ongoing situation. In addition, we have created a prominent area that aggregates all of our coronavirus-related communications on our firm-wide intranet, which includes CDC guidelines, a map of high-risk countries, remote working protocols, and more.
We are steadfast in our belief that our long-established preparedness efforts, our relentless vigilance, our timely actions, and our dedicated professionals will enable us to continue to operate in the current environment and beyond. Our clients deserve nothing less.
Douglas B. Sieg