WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 3, 2005 – No brokerage firms liquidations have been initiated as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and none are expected to emerge at this point, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) reported today. SIPC maintains a special reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect the customers of insolvent brokerage firms.
SIPC President Stephen Harbeck said: "What we are seeing here are the benefits of the extensive preparations the financial services industry has undertaken for any and all contingencies, including terrorist attacks and even large-scale natural disasters. Indeed, since the ‘Y2K bug’ computer issue arose in the late 1990s, brokerage firms have developed robust backup computing capability, contingency plans, and other redundant facilities to assure investors that assets are both secure and accessible in times of crisis."
He added: "Even though the brokerage community suffered great losses in human terms as a result of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, no brokerage firm was incapable of returning cash or securities as a result of that tragedy. The same appears to be true today with respect to the Gulf Coast area affected by the hurricanes. While there is enormous physical damage and human tragedy, financial assets held at brokerage firms do not appear to be at risk."
Harbeck said that SIPC has been in communication with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Association of Securities Dealers and the New York Stock Exchange to determine if there will be any need to initiate a customer protection proceeding as a result of the hurricanes.
Harbeck said: "To date, SIPC has no indication that any brokerage firm has failed as a result of the storms. Of course, if circumstances change, we will be ready to take the necessary steps."
SIPC recommends that Gulf Coast area investors who are unable to communicate with their individual financial professionals at any particular brokerage firm branch office should contact the headquarters office of the firm in question.