Mac Sykes, an analyst at asset management firm Gabelli & Co, spent Sunday evening, the second night of his summer vacation in New England, watching stock prices tank.
“I went to bed close to midnight and was up again around 4:30 am,” said Sykes, who works at Gabelli’s offices in Rye, New York. “I was anxious about the market.”
While his wife and three kids spent Monday at the beach, Sykes was busy on calls, doing research and watching markets from Shanghai to New York dive.
Sykes said his family doesn’t mind.
“They are used to it,” he said.
A global meltdown in stock markets and energy prices has struck at the height of holiday season for bankers and investors in the United States and Europe, forcing them to dial into conference calls from villas in St Tropez and trawl through emails from their beachside residences in the Hamptons.
“Everybody was in the game today no matter where they were,” said David Tawil, portfolio manager at Manhattan-based hedge fund Maglan Capital. “Technology makes it so the green light on your chat box is always on.”
Unlike market routs in less technically-advanced eras, such as the Asian financial crisis of 1997, bankers and hedge fund managers do not have to charter helicopters and limousines to ferry them back to work from the beach or the lakeside.
“The days of stockbrokers and fund managers disappearing to castles in the South of France all summer, and not being contactable for six weeks are gone. That was the case when I joined the market in the 1980s, when summers were deathly quiet for months,” said Stephen Bailey, partner and co-head of UK equities at asset manager Liontrust.
For those staff members still at work, the pace has been frenetic.
Alan Haft, an Irvine, California-based financial adviser, went into Monday’s stock market dive with very little sleep after working into the wee hours of Sunday night reaching out to clients, and getting up to check the Asian markets. He made sure he had four shots of espresso by the time of the U.S. exchanges’ official opening at 6.30 a.m Pacific time.
There was plenty of sleeplessness to go around.
Rick Rieder, chief investment officer of fundamental fixed income at BlackRock Inc, said he got up four times Sunday night to check the Asian markets.
“It was pretty incredible,” said Rieder, who works in New York. “You went to sleep knowing there was risk that this thing could really move.”
For Pasadena, California-based independent financial adviser, Tom Hulick, it was too risky to leave work behind and he canceled his 10-day vacation to the family holiday home in Montana so that he could reassure clients.
“We can’t leave now it’s just too volatile,” Hulick said. “My 12-year-old daughter was disappointed, but my family was understanding.”
Malcolm Makin, president of Professional Planning Group in Westerly, Rhode Island, was supposed to be playing golf Monday, but canceled plans because of the market volatility.
Makin, a financial adviser whose firm manages over $1 billion, was invited to play in a golf tournament at a nearby country club Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday was a practice day.
“Needless to say I am not practicing,” said Makin, who received about a dozen calls on Monday from clients asking about the markets.
Still, Makin does plan to play golf on Tuesday. “I will have my cell with me, and will be checking messages, and I will be there if clients need me,” he said.