There is no question that corona has disrupted every aspect of our lives. The way we work, buy groceries, educate our children, and interact with our neighbors have all changed dramatically in the last six weeks. In the financial industry, business leaders are navigating two conflated crises: the medical one and the market one. In a recent interview, Source Finance Advisors CEO Michelle Smith shared some of the changes she is seeing in the way money managers are doing business.
As most businesses have transitioned to working from home, Smith says, that certain gender discrepancies have crept in. While everyone strives to maintain a professional presence, things are getting a bit more relaxed. For men, it has become acceptable to attend virtual meetings slightly less “kempt” than usual and even in more casual clothing. However, it is still not OK for women to wear sweats to a meeting. “Just an observation,” Smith says.
A significant portion of Smith’s clients are ‘newer’ investors, primarily divorced women who handling their finances for the first time and have never experienced economic crises before. That means that Smith needs to be mindful of their anxieties and concerns. As fewer clients are willing to take fiscal risks. She urges advisors to accept and respect clients’ positions. When things calm down or even return to a new normal, the conversation can be revisited.
Toward that end, Smith acknowledges that the personal connection with clients has always been an important piece of the puzzle. Now, more than ever, she is seeing how important it is to maintain those bonds. Even if there is nothing new to report or deliverable to consider, reach out to the clients and hear how they are doing. Utilize tech platforms like zoom and Riskalyze check-ins to forge authentic conversations.
“Authenticity is now a default way of operating,” according to Smith, and having her son surprise her during calls has even generated opportunities “for real-life conversation,” beyond health and money topics. Smith also says that resources like timeline app, Monte Carlo one-pagers, and ethic investing’s health check have been helpful in providing industry information and constructive ideas.