Janney’s Jerry Lombard – Coronacrash Update with Tony Sirianni
AdvisorHub’s Publisher & CEO — Tony Sirianni — asked executives from top firms their opinions on the dual management of the Coronavirus and market meltdown crises. Read how leadership is managing one of the most unique challenges we have faced as a financial community.
Here is how Jerry Lombard — President of Janney Private Client Group responded.
The last few weeks have been unprecedented and unexpected, a perfect storm if you will, of management challenges both on the employee and client level. You have had to deal with employee safety issues that no CEO has training for, and a directly correlated market crash. What have you implemented at your firm to address this dual threat?
May you live in interesting times, indeed! First and foremost, during this crisis we want to provide the service levels our clients and FAs need and deserve. Hopefully those experiences will be just as good as they were pre-virus. At the same time we want to make sure our associates who deliver that support and FAs who deliver the advice are able to do so in a safe environment, and in a way that is supportive of the government initiatives to contain the virus. To that end, I am happy to say our remote work capabilities for our branch employees and home office employees (where working from the home office is not essential) have been working remarkably well. We were able to test these capabilities over the course of the last two weeks and I would estimate nearly 70% of our home office staff are now working from home. We set in place a number of policies to limit traffic into our branches and have established multiple times daily communication from the PCG management team to our branch leadership, FAs and PCAs pointing to resources that can allow them to continue to communicate with clients via remote settings and keeping them as updated as possible. In recent years we had made significant investments in technology and support staff to help with the implementation of our technology. It’s nice to see the payoff when it’s been needed.
How about the continuing market volatility? what are you telling your advisors to do/ what are you hearing from clients?
Our primary message to FAs is “control what you can control.” No one knows exactly when the mandated closures will end, how widely or seriously the virus will spread, what its impact on the economy will be or when the resulting drop stocks and interest rates will end. But we do know we can be pro-active in addressing the concerns our clients have. And our FAs have been. Our FAs are able to report on the impact volatility has had on client portfolios and longer term plans. We are outlining for clients a range of options and perspectives, to help them put this bear market into context historically and as it relates to their long term goals.
Our Investment Strategy Group has been publishing regular updates and outlook pieces. They have been available for key client calls and have already made numerous calls with our branches. The nice thing about being such an FA focused firm is that critical thought leadership from our strategists is readily available to all our FAs and their clients.
Clients, naturally, are concerned about what’s going on in the world, the market drop and its impact on their longer term plans. We have seen a good bit of rebalancing and limited de-risking in some instances. On the flip side we have clients interested in taking advantages of the lower prices and putting new capital to work. There has been no one size fits all reaction and as is often has been the case with past market down turns, well advised clients tend not to panic.
What about the economy longer term? Where do you think we will be in 6 months, and how can advisors and their clients take advantage of that long term direction?
There is still a lot of uncertainty, but based on the historic resiliency of the US economy, we think things will eventually right themselves and the economy will begin to grow again. I don’t know if that will be inside of six months, but I think it is an eventuality. The economy was strong going into the crisis. Our banking system is well capitalized. Credit is cheap as is the price at the pump and the Fed and government are taking action to address the stress points. These will all help usher in the next leg up to the economy and markets. But, not exactly sure how many months before the dust settles, but it will.
What about our business? What do you think the long term impact of this dual crisis will be on the advisor business model?
The glass half full guy in me says this current crisis is yet another opportunity for professional FAs to reinforce the value they add to their clients already complicated lives. The more chaotic things become the more valuable the perspective and advice from a trusted advisor So I’m just as bullish about our business model today as I was a month ago at the highs.
So these things tend to bring out the good and the bad in people. What has most encouraged you, what have you seen that has reaffirmed your faith in our community and how its handling these difficult times?
I’m noticing the good more than the bad. I think people are a little more patient and remember I live in the North East! I see a little less stress over small stuff. If we all look out for each other, lend a hand and keep a positive attitude, I think that could be spreading.