How Advisors Got Their Firm Through COVID

More clients than ever.

Like as in ever, ever – even during a global health crisis to boot.

Several recent reports indicate financial advisors saw an uptick in the numbers of clients not just seeking, but also securing, their services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the College for Financial Planning, 71 percent of responding advisors said they have more clients now than before the pandemic hit. Nationwide Financial discovered that 24 percent of the 2,000 people asked about their personal finances during COVID-19 indicated they had contacted a financial professional for the first time. And in the good news category for financial advisors hoping to beef up their practice for the long-term, the Northern Mutual 2020 Planning and Progress Study documented that increasing numbers of younger workers – 19 percent of Gen Xers and 22 percent of millennials and Gen Zers – said they are seeking to establish a relationship with a professional financial advisor.

Whew, that’s a lot of statistical evidence to support the assertion that the Covid-19 virus caused a surge in motivating Americans to seek financial doctoring.

Here are a few insights from the field as financial advisors share how the pandemic impacted their firms and how they responded:

Prepare for Catastrophy

He couldn’t have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic, but David Cyrs, senior partner and managing director at CYRS Wealth Advisors, LLC based in Rockford, Illinois, took a cue from hurricanes that occurred over the past decade to make emergency preparations for his firm.

Davidcyrus242“We had a number of things in place,” he said. “After hurricanes took out fellow advisors’ practices eight years ago, we diligently worked to take all of functionality to the Cloud. Frankly, it is something we worked on for 15 years.”

Thus, CYRS transition to remote working was “rather seamless,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bit anxiety producing. It was the first time we had really been tested outside of dress rehearsals. But we were prepared and all in all, we did very well.”

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Poor communication – most notably during crisis – is a leading reason why clients leave a financial advisor.

Rachel Lauber, CFP® knows this and when the pandemic hit, she knew it was time to up her game to become a communication superstar.

The owner of FlexFinancial Planning in Clifton Park and Salem, New York, she took the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to “highlight the flexibility and adaptability” of her business model.

RL233“We have a small number of employees and were able to move rapidly to working from home,” she said. “We immediately emailed a newsletter to all of our clients – although a small number had to receive it by (postal) mail. Then, we picked up the phone and started calling them. We did not wait for them to call.”

While she did ramp up social media with posting newsletters on Facebook, Lauber said that working the phones and using Zoom videoconferencing meetings were key to her firm’s survival through the lockdowns.

“People during the pandemic were so hungry for contact,” she said. “They were told to stay inside, because going out meant possibly coming into contact with others who might be carrying a highly, highly contagious disease that maybe would show no symptoms until it was too late. When we picked up the phone and reached out, they were tremendously grateful. And I think that has gone such a long way toward solidifying client relationships.”

Final Expenses

It’s often said that “no one gets out of this life alive.” And prudent financial advisors address this with their clients as part of sound comprehensive planning.

For Asghar Kazim, principal and co-founder of United Wealth Group, LLC, located in Princeton, New Jersey, ensuring that clients have planned for the future – including their own final expenses – is something he was doing long before COVID-19 hit.

AK169“We have a philosophy of protection first in our planning with clients,” he said. “In this environment where all the buzz is about rate of return and most people have ignored planning for uncertainties, our clients have permanent life insurance plans for the death that can also build guaranteed cash values as well some guaranteed income in retirement.”

Kazim said his firm was able to provide reassurance during uncertainty such as the COVID-19 pandemic that they have plans in place to help address volatility in the stock market and other overall changes in the financial landscape, as well as concerns about providing their families in the case of death.

Bringing it Together

As what happens in any crisis, heroes emerge. The crisis shines a spotlight on people who persevere; people whose actions give others a reason to carry on. Certainly, that applies to the healthcare workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also applies to professionals in the financial industry that worked through and continue to handle client concerns. From preparing the systems of their firms for emergency situations to increasing communication with clients to ensuring that clients final financial needs are met, financial advisors played an active role in helping the nation cope and overcome.



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