Fund World Feels the Pain

While investors shouldn't panic, many fund firms are searching to account for their employees.
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Updated from 5:32 p.m. EDT Wednesday

The destruction of the World Trade Center has shaken the mutual fund world, leaving some fund firms scrambling to account for their employees and some investors fretting about their accounts.

With thousands of people missing and presumed dead in the collapse of the lower Manhattan office complex, worrying about the folks who run funds is only natural. But until markets reopen, investors gain nothing by chafing about the funds themselves: Even if you want to cash out immediately, you can't because funds can't price their shares until the stock trading resumes.

"As in most parts of life, panic isn't helpful with your finances now,"says Russ Kinnel, director of fund analysis at Chicago fund trackerMorningstar. "These attacks didn't change the value of

Microsoft

or

Coca-Cola

."

The fear arises because so much of the nation's financial markets action takes place within a few blocks of Tuesday's attacks. A number of fundcompanies had offices in the World Trade Center, and with informationscarce, people have been left to fear the worst.

Fortunately, many workers do appear to have escaped the blasts.

"We are thankful that all of the 598

Oppenheimer Funds

employees in ourWorld Trade Center offices are safe," says a statement posted toOppenheimer's Web site. "Only two injuries were reported --both of which were minor in nature."

Citigroup

officials have said that the firm's Salomon Smith Barneyemployees were evacuated from 7 World Trade Center prior to its collapse Tuesday night, though some staffers are still missing. But "four Citibank employees who we believe were visiting customers within the World Trade Center are unaccounted for," a statement said.

Deutsche Bank Asset Management

had offices in the Trade Center. The firm evacuated its employees on Tuesday morning, but isn't releasing any details.

Meanwhile, some fund firms have apparently suffered severe losses.

Morgan Stanley

, which has most of its fund managers and analysts inmidtown Manhattan, reportedly had 3,500 brokers and financial advisers in 22 floors of the Trade Center's South Tower. "We can report that we have been in touch with most of the people who worked for us at the World Trade Center complex," according to a company statement posted to the firm?s Web site. "But a number are still unaccounted for, and it is clear that we have lost friends and colleagues."

The

New York Post

reported that up to half of the Morgan Stanley employees are unaccounted for.

Alger Funds

had 55 employees in its headquarters in the North Tower. Today 38 of those staffers are unaccounted for, including President and ChiefInvestment Officer David Alger. On Wednesday the firm announced that Fred Alger, David Alger's brother and the firm's chairman, will overseeday-to-day operations and Dan Chung, the firm's top technology analyst, was named chief investment officer. The Alger Funds' pricing, marketing, administrative and customer service operations are still up and running in its Morristown,N.J., offices.

Given the severity and location of the attack, the millions of investorsfar from New York might be concerned about their accounts. Long storyshort, account records are typically kept in remote locations far fromfinancial centers.

Fund recordkeeper DST Systems, a unit of

Stilwell Financial

, keeps thebooks for many fund firms in its Kansas City, Mo., headquarters. Oppenheimer Funds, for instance, noted that its records are kept in a Denver office and backed up daily.

Even if you were to sell shares today, that sale won't happen until thestock markets open again. A survey of the 10 largest fund firms' Web sites finds that each firm will accept sell or exchange orders, but those orders won't be executed until stocks start trading again. Today funds are priced based on Monday's closing prices.

"Mutual funds will be ready to resume business as soon as the U.S.financial markets reopen," Matthew Fink, president of the Investment Company Institute, said in a Tuesday statement. The Institute is the fundindustry's largest trade group. "In the meantime, mutual fund investors can rest assured that their mutual fund assets are fully protected.Investor transactions will be handled in an orderly fashion and computed at the next available market price."

If you'd like to check out your funds' pricing and record-keeping procedures, check out their Web site or give them a call. The sites and customer services lines for the 10 largest fund firms are listed below.

  • Fidelity

  • www.fidelity.com

  • 1-800-544-6666
  • Vanguard

  • www.vanguard.com

  • 1-800-871-3879
  • American Funds

  • www.americanfunds.com

  • 1-800-421-0180
  • Putnam Investments

  • www.putnaminv.com

  • 1-800-225-1581
  • Franklin Templeton

  • www.franklintempleton.com

  • 1-800-632-2301
  • Janus

  • www.janus.com

  • 1-800-525-3713
  • T. Rowe Price

  • www.troweprice.com

  • 1-800-225-5132
  • AIM

  • www.aimfunds.com

  • 1-800-959-4246
  • MFS

  • www.mfs.com

  • 1-800-225-2606
  • Oppenheimer

  • www.oppenheimerfunds.com

  • 1-888-470-0862