Most of us stride through life not thinking that something bad is just around the corner and disaster is about to strike. While none of us want to walk around wearing a helmet and life jacket, in a constant state of paranoia that something bad is going to happen, we can take reasonable steps to prevent negative events from turning into an even worse disaster.
No, I’m not the insurance salesman of the opera. Instead, I’m talking about disaster planning. What the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma remind us is that natural disasters happen, and when they do, they can wreak havoc on the life you know, so we need to be prepared. It is crucial to have a plan in place to control what we can and intelligently react to those “what if . . .” scenarios that are likely to occur in our area. In western Washington the big “what if” is an earthquake.
The last time we had a major earthquake on the West Coast was San Francisco in 1989 and it devastated the area, leaving thousands without food, water, and power for weeks. Given the recent hurricanes, I thought that as a client, you would like to know that CWM does have a very detailed disaster plan in place in the event we have an earthquake or other major natural disaster.
In the digital age, one major concern for any business is continued access to technology and client information. For starters, our servers are housed in a data center that is under lock and key as well as 24 hour surveillance. If the power goes out, there’s a diesel generator that kicks on and powers the servers. In addition, our servers have real-time mirroring with duplicate servers housed at a separate facility (also under 24 hour surveillance) in a different part of the country to assure that we are geographically diverse. If our servers go down here, those servers go live so we can continue to access client data remotely.
Beyond the automatic responses of our technology, we have a disaster procedure manual that spells out the responsibilities each member of the Disaster Recovery Team member takes on, including rendezvous points depending on the location and extent of the disaster. While there is only so much we can do, and no plan is completely bomb proof, barring very extreme circumstances we feel confident in our ability to quickly rebound and continue to serve the needs of our clients during or shortly following a disaster.
According to a study completed by Nationwide, 75% of small businesses do not have any kind of plan in place should a natural disaster strike. Not only do many not have a disaster plan in place, they also often do not have their data backed up (or mirrored) in another geographic location that they could retrieve in a short time-frame in the event of a disaster. Our planning does not mean we won’t feel the pain or hit a few bumps if something bad happens, it just means that we have taken steps to increase the likelihood that we can continue to serve our clients and be full operations faster than if we were not prepared.
While we always hope that nothing bad ever happens, we feel prepared to act should the need arise. I want your take away from this to be that your financial planner has a plan, both for me and my family, as well as for the continuity and security of the firm and for our client’s assets. We are continually in discussion about your financial plan and fine-tuning it according to the things life throws your way, and we practice what we preach by also doing that in our business.
Brian J. Lockett, CFP®
VP, Certified Financial Planner
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