Business continuity planning has become an area of growing focus in the mutual fund industry as firms move away from the idea that continuity simply means staying in business during an outage and instead move toward the concept of business resiliency.

“Business continuity several years ago was about location—it was regarding physical books and records and the ability to operate the organization and its physical infrastructure,” Alma Piscitello, head of strategic relationships at Northern Lights, said. “Fast forward, and it is now looked at through a technology and people-power perspective. It’s about information security and this approach of examining each individual’s continuity.”

Piscitello emphasized the importance of having the right people in place as part of a strong continuity plan. She believes succession planning is part of an overall business continuity plan. Clients are increasingly asking a number of questions about the executives at the fund, from the portfolio managers down to the operations and technology teams who are dealing with personally identifiable information.

“Now clients ask: Who are you training? Who really understands the infrastructure? How does each phase of the continuity plan work? Who are the key decision makers? How safe is my information? Succession planning becomes part of this due diligence conversation,” Piscitello said. “The interruption of a business goes beyond the physical infrastructure. It goes to the assignment of duties of qualified people in the event of any change at the organization.”

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