The current COVID-19 situation has no doubt changed the way many of us conduct business and communicate with one another. For financial advisors, the uncertainty and volatility of the markets has added additional stresses and challenges. We spoke to six financial advisors on the impact this has had on their practice and how they're handling it.
One thing that is certain, is that the questions you’re asking yourself about what this means for your financial advisory business are the same questions your peers are asking themselves. In times of ambiguity, looking to others within the industry and maintaining open lines of communication is more important than ever.
Here are the questions we asked:
- How is the Coronavirus situation affecting your business?
- What type of reactions are you getting from clients?
- Are there any key takeaways or feedback you would like to share?
The bottom line of what we're after here is to answer the question of how the current situation will affect a financial advisors day-to-day practice moving forward. From the six advisors we spoke to, the general consensus is that this an advisor’s time to take action and reassure clients (best done proactively) that they’re in the right hands and well prepared for what is to come.
For the advisors we asked, it seems that clients are reaching out with concern but not at the scale they imagined. Perhaps because they have continued to keep communications lines open during this time. Here’s a look at what they had to say about the immediate changes to their businesses:
Q: How is the Coronavirus Situation Affecting Your Practice?
“[This situation is] giving [us] an opportunity to shine. Allowing us to engage with our clients, and remind them that we are prepared for this. We didn’t know it would be the coronavirus per se, but we knew something was coming, something is always coming, it’s when not if.
Last month, we created 240k jobs in this country so the economy is certainly robust and pretty much anyone who wants a job can get a job and this is just a major disruptor. Look at the industries that are being shut down, look at the travel industry. It will eventually pass but it is chaotic.” - Larry Breen, Breen Financial Management
The general approach these advisors have taken, is a proactive one, rather than reactive. Another imminent question is how are clients reacting to advisor’s communications about the market and Covid-19?
The responses we received can arguably be the most telling about the current state of morale in the industry. General consensus is that advisors are pulling through at the this time and successfully setting client expectations for what is to come. Many of the advisors reported that they feel they've done a sufficient job at calming nerves, while acknowledging their worries are valid and understandable.
However, on the other end of the spectrum some advisors have expressed very honestly and transparently that this is a scary time for their clients, and they're doing what they can to get them to a less risky place. Things are still rapidly changing, for many clients market uncertainty is drowning out their advisors voice of reason.
Q: What type of reaction are you getting from clients?
|“I have got my clients situated pretty good and conservative so they aren’t too worried. As far as inquiring new clients, there has been a roadblock whereas I thought there would be more people looking for help and advice, it has instead been at a standstill.” - Dan Sullivan, Sullivan Retirement Resources
“Remind us what our strategies are, and help us make sure we are still built right and we are going to come out on the other side in a good place" - Mitch Katz, Capital Associates Wealth Management
“We do a pretty good job at making sure that the clients we have are in the right investments and they know kind of what to expect as far as whatever risks they are in.” - Kirby Brown, Star Investments & Benefits
“They understand why the markets are pulling back right now, some of them may be nervous, some have an understanding that we were at the tail end of a cycle. I’ve been preparing them for quite some time for a market pullback and I’ve been talking about diversification and getting ready for a downturn.” - Michael Franklin, Franklin Legacy Financial, LLC
“I have a few clients who want to put money to work because they think everything is down, and every time we get ready to, it goes down another thousand or two thousand points. So everyone is on edge, quite frankly. I’d be lying if I said they weren’t concerned.” - Eric Siegeltuch, Cetera Financial Specialists, LLC
“Everybody is concerned about it, you would have to be a robot not to be. If you are retired and you are dependent on income from your portfolio to provide for your financial well being for the rest of your life, it’s very disconcerting to see just in the span of a short period of time to see 20-25% of your money evaporate essentially. I’m just saying to others that haven’t gone from cash, that you own what you own, nothing has changed except for the perceived value of the asset for no good reason, it’s still the same company doing the same thing.” - Larry Breen, Breen Financial Management
It’s clear that there is no cookie-cutter answer or roadmap for all advisors to take, and regardless, the situation is ever-changing no one can predict with certainty how it may progress or when it will calm down. At this stage each advisor has their own takeaways and advice for communicating with clients during this time.
Clients are looking for answers, and advisors are in the optimal position to share their knowledge to reassure them and other prospects who are looking for guidance. Sharing similar experience with market downturns in the past is approach of most advisors in our conversations. Some have anticipation that after lifestyle concerns subside, and dust settles in the market, clients will look to advisors to begin rebuilding.
These are uncertain times, but what is evident, is that we can learn from each other as things evolve. Here are some insights and advice from fellow advisors:
Q: Are there any key takeaways or feedback you would like to share?
|“What we typically tell our clients, in the history of the stock market, since the great depression, a normal downturn in the market is from 6-18 months, with 18 months being the longest. We spend a lot of time talking to them about ‘hey if you can’t handle the market going down 10-15% then we are going to have to put you somewhere more conservative. So I would say it has a lot to do with trust and education.”- Kirby Brown, Star Investments & Benefits
“For a new Advisor, this is a learning experience. They need to have a good understanding of business cycles...It’s always a good idea when things start to overheat to have cash on hand, anywhere from 20-30 percent, to take advantage of these opportunities in a down market.” - Michael Franklin, Franklin Legacy Financial, LLC
“We’re just going to have to deal with it. Lifestyle concerns are taking the front seat, and their portfolios are almost like an afterthought at this point.” - Eric Siegeltuch, Cetera Financial Specialists, LLC
We what to hear how COVID-19 is affecting your practice and day-to-day activities. Tell us your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org, we are in this together! Stay safe and social(ly distant).
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