By Brad Sanders, CFP®, CRPC®
Friday, March 13, 2020. That was the day employees of Stonebridge learned we would be working from home indefinitely. I am sure people everywhere have a unique recollection of the moment their lives became substantially altered due to COVID-19.
The financial advisory business has historically relied heavily on in-person interaction. Many people understandably prefer to meet face-to-face with someone before hiring them for financial planning and investment management services. They want to know who’s handling this critical task. This year has caused businesses in every industry to adapt and modify the way they interact with customers. Fortunately, we have found we can still provide a very high level of service in our client relationships, even in a fully virtual environment.
In March, we were abruptly forced to utilize the technology we had at our disposal and moved quickly to ensure we ran at full capacity while working remotely. Behind the scenes, we began holding daily investment committee calls involving our advisory and trading teams. We have seamlessly kept communication open via email, phone and screen-sharing meetings. We are also offering in-person meeting options when they are wanted.
While we value and enjoy in-person interactions, it is helpful to know that almost everything we previously offered in person can still be presented in a virtual setting. In our client reviews, we have the ability to share:
– Financial plan presentations and updates – Review and update your plan and run multiple scenarios to ensure you stay on track using our financial planning software.
– Performance report discussions – Interactive performance updates that show risk/return statistics on a per-account or portfolio basis using our portfolio accounting software.
– Market outlook and research – Information from the Stonebridge team as well as third-party research providers to deliver insights that support our discussions of the market and economic environment.
– Account updates and paperwork? Deliver and execute paperwork electronically.
Ultimately, there is no way of knowing when things will return to normal or what that will even mean. The pandemic has taught us that we can effectively communicate with clients both in-person and remotely. As a client, know that while our location (and dress code) may have changed when we aren’t physically in the office, our responsiveness and ability to connect with you and our fellow team members have not. These essential services will continue, whatever our environment.
Brad Sanders has been a lifelong resident of Central PA. He began in the financial services industry in 2007. Prior to that, he attended St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA where he was also a member of the baseball team. He earned his Certified Financial Planner® certification in 2012 and his Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® designation in 2013.