As the mayhem of March is replaced by a resignation that this is “just-how-it-is-for-now,” advisors tell us they’re ready to step out of crisis mode-thinking to focus more on the big picture.
With COVID-19-related restrictions relaxing in varying degrees throughout the country, each of us is tasked with finding our own way of getting back to some semblance of normalcy—albeit while some of us are still donning face masks and standing 6 feet away from others.
But the truth of the matter is that this insidious virus has left an indelible mark on all facets of our lives—a mark that is not likely to fade any time soon.
Yet, as the mayhem of March is replaced by a less volatile stock market, and perhaps a resignation that this is “just-how-it-is-for-now,” most advisors tell us they are ready to step out of crisis mode-thinking to focus more on the big picture.
Ultimately, this crisis has presented some silver linings. It’s allowing advisors to re-up their commitment to clients and to show off the benefits of smart planning and asset allocation. It’s forcing everyone to be more creative and find new ways to communicate, manage and run their businesses. And, it’s proven to us all that working from home doesn’t mean being unproductive or inefficient.
But, to one degree or another, the show must go on, because there are some things that have not changed: Advisors still have businesses to run, clients that need them, and a fiduciary responsibility to be certain that optimal service can be delivered without limitation.
Crisis mode forces us to narrow our lens and focus on dousing in-the-moment fires, but as we enter a collective new normal, advisors will need to widen their lenses and return to looking at the “bigger picture” once again. One way to begin this shift is by answering these five threshold questions:
- Has my firm been a value-add partner?
- Is there anything I wish were different about my firm or the support I am getting from them?
- What frustrated me pre-crisis and has that frustration grown or abated?
- Has this crisis brought to light any advantages or limitations?
- Was I 100% satisfied with my firm pre-crisis? Am I 100% satisfied with it now?
Rise Above and Reassess
As the world – and the wealth management space in particular – goes through the phases of reopening, now may be the time for advisors to rise above and reassess whether their firm serves them best, or if they may be better served elsewhere.
The lens of crisis offers a new perspective through which an advisor can compare his past and present worlds—and evaluate the real impact on his future. Start by taking a big picture view based on these six key criteria:
- Assess your personal situation – Carefully evaluate your emotional, physical and financial health: Are you in a stable enough place to consider a change—particularly in uncertain times?
- Assess your business – How are your clients feeling about you and your team? Have you been good stewards navigating the crisis? Has your team felt connected to you while working remotely? How portable is your business overall?
- What’s your T12 telling you? — Has your trailing 12 months production taken a hit? Should you wait until it rebounds, or do you want to consider a move now while your T12 is still mostly comprised of good months?
- The strength of partnerships and teams — Do you, your partners and team see the world the same way? Has the crisis driven you closer together or farther apart? Do you continue to have the same vision and goals?
- How high are the stakes? — Do you have a lot to lose by moving? For example, how much unvested deferred compensation do you walk away from, or would you lose the opportunity to buy a book of business from a colleague?
- What jazzes you? — Considering the expanded industry landscape where there are many exciting ways to run a successful advisory business, no one should ever feel “stuck.” Is there an option or opportunity that could significantly move the needle and allow you to better achieve your professional goals?
Answering these questions honestly will help you to understand the real impact the crisis has had upon your business and enable you to make decisions about your future from a position of strength—regardless of whether you choose to stay with your firm or explore other options.
No doubt, this crisis has changed everyone—but the good news is that we are resilient beings, and we always find ways to adapt. Adaptation is not merely about survival—it is about finding new ways to thrive. And such discovery is found only by looking at the big picture, plotting your next step and forging ahead.