Nasdaq, the giant securities-trading group, has prepared a backup trading floor and secure data facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard business center in South Philadelphia, just in case the coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic leaves Wall Street systems as vulnerable as a hurricane or terrorist attack.
Industry sources say Nasdaq has stepped up training in recent days to add dozens of personnel at its League Island Boulevard center, if needed. The backup prep work was later confirmed by Nasdaq officials in New York.
“The health and safety of our employees and members is paramount, and we take very seriously our place in the U.S. financial infrastructure,” said Joe Christinat, a spokesman for Nasdaq. “If our main trading floor were to become inaccessible, Nasdaq can operate our trading floor facility in a secondary location, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.”
Nasdaq bases its futures and options trading businesses at the FMC tower in University City, including staff who learned their trade at the former Philadelphia Stock Exchange, which Nasdaq acquired and moved to West Philly from its former building on Market Street. Christinat noted that Nasdaq has had “redundant systems and locations” for many years.
The market, and its rivals such as the New York Stock Exchange group, have beefed up their back offices and recovery centers since Hurricane Sandy flooded parts of lower Manhattan in 2012, according to industry sources.
Nasdaq isn’t the only area financial employer that is prepping.
FS Investments, which employs 300 investment managers and support staff (including 21 at its newly separated trading-tech company, AIX, “established a committee of senior leaders to evaluate the situation on a daily basis, and are taking precautions to manage the business’ critical functions, protect our employees and their families and act as responsible citizens. Our response and the changes in how we do business are evolving each day,” said Mike Gerber, senior managing director.
“We’re following the pandemic closely," he added. "More of our folks are working from home and we are cutting back on all travel.”
The virus has cut air and Amtrak travel volumes and led to canceled shows at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, reducing hotel bookings.
WSFS, the largest bank still based in the Philadelphia area, has also prepared “pandemic response plans and procedures” and is “reinforcing best health practices” at about 100 Philadelphia-area and Delaware branches, said spokeswoman Rebecca Acevedo.