Coronacrash Advisor Insights: Source Financial Partners’ Michelle Smith & Tony Sirianni
AdvisorHub’s Publisher & CEO — Tony Sirianni — asked top advisors from leading firms their opinions on the dual management of the Coronavirus and market meltdown crises. Read how these advisors are managing one of the most unique challenges we have faced as a financial community.
Here is how Michelle Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Source Financial Advisors responded.
So we’re in a new and challenging dynamic, where not only do our clients need us more than ever, but we have to change the tried and true way that we have always interacted with them. How are you handling the challenge of working remotely and managing clients? Is video conferencing effective? How do you maintain a sense of normalcy personally and professionally?
I am handling the challenge of working remotely and managing clients remotely very well. I am seeing the gender issue creeping in, as women are held to a different standard on zoom calls than men. It’s amusing and funny that our male counterparts may be growing out a beard and wearing their college fraternity hoodies on calls. We still need to maintain a professional presence, albeit slightly more relaxed. Which is fine, just an observation.
People who have never done this job don’t really understand how much psychiatry we do every day, how close we have to get to our clients to get them to tell us about their hopes and dreams and plans, nor do they realize how closely the physical fears of coronavirus and the all too real fear of financial ruin are so closely related. How are your clients reacting to the dual threat of covid-19 and the market crash? What are you telling them?
Ten percent of my client base legitimately realized their risk appetite is not what they thought it was. I am counseling those people not to be ashamed of that. Just because you cannot tolerate volatility to this degree is nothing to be ashamed of. Half of my clients are also ‘newer’ investors as they are divorced women who are newly in control of their money so this is the first crash they have experienced. In fact, the opposite is true. Your money should not keep you up at a night. If it is, something is wrong and needs to be corrected. This health crisis combined with the economic avalanche shortly behind it hit people’s primal fears of dying alone without money. I am meeting all clients ‘where they are’ and not throwing a bunch of historical data at them to convince them otherwise.
What about your business? Are you just “maintaining” or are you growing? Is there an opportunity to build your book because other brokers are afraid to pick up the phone right now? How do you prospect without traditional client interactions during a market climate like this?
I am now growing (as in past 4 weeks) for the entire month of March — maintain was the most important thing for me to do as a fiduciary. It was the responsible move to solely focus on the clients who trusted me with their life savings. Now I have shifted into gain new business mode.
Things are down, but somebody must be making money. Where do you see opportunity in the market? Are you recommending any investments right now to clients, or suggesting they exit certain investments or sectors? Do you have any sense of where to invest post crisis? Or are you riding out the storm?
The opportunities into some dislocated sectors of the bind market are the obvious choices.
What’s been the most useful piece of technology or advice that you could suggest to other advisors who are trying to cope in these circumstances, particularly some technology or business practice that you have discovered or rediscovered during this crisis that you will use in your business going forward?
Riskalyze check-ins, timeline app Monte Carlo one-pagers, and ethic investing’s health check.
I’ve got a feeling that we are getting to know each other a little better these days. Whether we hear kids and dogs in the background of a conference call, or see some interesting choices in clothing and grooming on Zoom, we are “getting real” with each other in an out of the corporate world type of way. I’m seeing the best advisors create truly holistic experiences for their nervous clients, and helping folks in ways above and beyond what a “traditional” financial advisor would normally do. What’s happening in your world during crazy time that you will take with you into the post corona world that will help you grow your business and deepen your client relationships?
Authenticity is now a default way of operating, and frankly, my special needs son running into my bedroom office saying hi to clients has truly created amazing opportunities for a different type of real-life conversation — on top of talking about death and money.
Source Financial Advisors is a member of the Dynasty Network.