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What Advisors Have Learned From the Coronavirus Pandemic

No, it is not over yet. And while many businesses have reopened, some degree of normalcy has returned to cities and towns despite the U.S. surpassing 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. If a second stay-at-home is ordered, at least we will know what to expect.

Five Hefren-Tillotson financial advisors who have lived through it and toughed it out share what they have learned about themselves, their clients, and what they will likely carry forward.

Margaret “Maggie” Kanaan, AIF®           

One of the big lessons I have learned is that I became spoiled over the years. We have professional offices with conference rooms, printers, scanners and support staff all at our fingertips. Working remotely has literally reduced my work routine to a laptop and a cell phone where all I can do is call and talk with our clients. 

However, this streamlined process of facing the workday has made a surprisingly positive difference. Our clients appreciate hearing from us and being there to listen. As simple as that sounds, listening has helped me to better connect with the “person.” We refer to the people we serve as our clients, yet when we connect on a more personal level, the relationship has a way of deepening. We see one another on a more human level with less emphasis on the portfolio.

Without question, our job is to continue to provide sound financial planning advice and top-notch investment management on an ongoing basis. This global health crisis makes our job even more important, and reaching out to stay connected will be my number one goal going forward.

Cory Utz, CFP®

Personally, I enjoy face-to-face meetings with clients who have turned into friends. I desperately missed all of that during most of the pandemic. However, deeper bonds that characterized the human experience replaced what I missed.

Client “meetings” became phone calls. We talked about finances, but also about their lives, their families and their health, coupled with their thoughts, feelings and struggles. We addressed fears and apprehensions, as humans do with deep connection and genuine caring.

Teaching a 90-year-old grandmother how to use Zoom is not about the technological progress we’ve made or about trying to transport her into modern society, it is about finding a way to look into someone’s eyes and share a smile – the essence of a uniquely human experience from a deep bond. “Who can run the fastest across the yard” brought the same bright smile to my five-year-old this spring as “Who can score the most goals,” did last spring. With his games cancelled, he still craves authentic human interaction.

Nearly 425 years before Christ, Socrates said, “How many things there are which I do not want.” The coronavirus pandemic taught me that I could have a growth-oriented mindset and still agree with Socrates.

Brad Colvin, CFP®

Enjoy the sunny days! While in quarantine, I noticed most of us were defining a good day by the mere presence of the sun. When it came out, all felt okay. Our day was filled with hope and excitement. We opened up the blinds and let the sunshine in. We went outside for a walk, a run or a bike ride. In its most literal sense, it seemed like everyone made the most of the glorious days and did not take them for granted. 

I am hopeful this is a lesson we can all take from quarantine and apply it even beyond those beautiful UV rays. When life gets busy again, I hope we learned how important it is to step back and take a moment to enjoy the good times, the precious times, and express our appreciation for the good people in our lives.

T.J. McCance, AAI, MBA

Tough times reaffirmed for me that the planning we do with MASTERPLAN® is incredibly important. We might take it for granted when everything is great, but the importance of proper planning is most noticeable during difficult times. People who went through the planning process were much more at ease with the uncertainty going on than those who I met that were not clients and didn’t have any type of planning done.

Planning gives me confidence too. I can say to clients, “We talked about this,” or “We planned for this knowing it could happen.” Time and time again, people say planning eased their minds, lessened their concerns and allowed them to make logical, rational decisions rather than emotional ones. What I will carry forward is to keep planning the way we do. As a firm, our belief at Hefren-Tillotson has always been that financial planning is key. We will continue to do financial planning and investments, always in that order.

Mike McKee, Financial Advisor

The swiftest 30% drop in history for the S&P 500? Now, we are all a part of history. In talking with clients and investment professionals alike, during a period that seemed like months when it was just mere weeks, I learned that everyone had a different perspective, and that there was no immediate answer to making us feel better about what was happening. Clients asked me to share my thoughts, provide guidance, and to ease their concerns. One of the best messages I found to share was from Jim Fullerton, former CEO of Capital Group, who told his employees and investors during a prolonged bear market in 1974: “Have courage! We have been here before, and we’ve survived and prospered.” While each crisis is different, and it’s difficult to have patience during the recovery process, history has shown that a crisis will end and we will all learn something from it.

DISCLAIMER: Past performance does not predict future results. This report is based on data obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. Hefren-Tillotson does not, nor any other party, guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report or make any warranties regarding results obtained from its usage. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the firms judgment as of the date of this report and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell the securities herein mentioned.

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