Planning Pays Off During Superstorm

Treasuries took Sandy in stride after dealing with multiple crises over the past decade.

Tom Edwards, treasurer, Wyndham WorldwideWhen the dozen members of Wyndham Worldwide’s treasury department met by phone on Tuesday morning, Oct. 30, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, they spent a few minutes taking it all in.

Most of the team had no power, living as they do near company headquarters in Parsippany, N.J. Some landline coverage was iffy, and cell service was spotty at best, causing interruptions from time to time in the team’s call. The flooding of lower Manhattan was something no one had imagined, and it called into question how the company’s banks would fare.

Over the last decade or so, banks and corporate treasuries have been stress-tested by the Y2K alarm, Sept. 11 and the 2008-2009 financial crisis, says Anthony Carfang, a partner at consulting firm Treasury Strategies. “Had this happened 20 years ago, you probably would have had a financial calamity,” Carfang says, but “for most big companies, it was just a matter of leveraging the banking relationships they have.”

Still, there’s always room for improvement in preparation, says Wyndham’s Edwards. He and his team are taking time now to imagine other eventualities and prepare for scenarios that give them less time to plan. For example, they’re updating and expanding their contact lists to include banking contacts in other locations.

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