2. Education choices and funding: With the emergence of online classes at a time when campus life is restricted, are expensive schools worth it? That depends on your priorities and the trade-offs you are willing to make. My guess is that over the long term we will see the finest or most specialized schools retain prices and perceived value, while lower tier institutions suffer. Even the top schools may integrate online and campus programs, motivated by the need to keep costs down and reduce density in school buildings. Campus life this fall will either make or break the value proposition for many schools, which has administrators and alumni very worried.

No matter what happens, the debate about the value of private schools, colleges and advanced degree programs has heated up since Covid-19 cooled down the overall on-campus experience. The longer it takes for life to return to normal, the more likely it is that parents and students will demand lower tuition costs, as well as consider community college or trade school alternatives. For advisors and clients, it is an opportunity to rethink financial commitments, including the weight of student debt. But it will not be easy. Funding the best education has been a critical goal for many families. The question today is, what does that mean?

3. Planning for now and the future: Whether it’s baby boomers opening their homes and wallets to their children, Generation X facing another setback in retirement savings, or millennials dealing with job losses, many retirement plans have taken a hit in the past months. We had already seen a trend of redefining and postponing retirement, and that will be accelerated by both necessity (since people will need more in savings) and opportunity (they will also be able to work remotely). Even so, now may not be the time to focus clients on the retirement time horizon. It may go against our nature as wealth managers and planners, but it’s not really about money right now. It is about life, and all people want to know is how you can help them get through this time.

Are they OK for the next year or so? If not, what are their options? Long-term planning, asset allocation and diversification will work in clients’ favor over the long term, but you should be prepared if they scoff at the historical charts and future models. The stock market goes up, but we also know volatility is like a roller-coaster. Don’t focus on it. Leave those details for another day. In the hierarchy of needs, clients just want to know they are safe.

Advisors With Heart
Since I have shared my own experience and change of plans, I want to describe the experience with my trusted advisor and her team during this time. There has been plenty of communication, but what I appreciated most was a text that simply said, “Been thinking of you and your family. Hope everything is OK!” It had been a rough day, as our grandson was born prematurely in an NYC hospital. We kept in touch by text and cell phone, and when I told my advisor we wanted to create a family compound and were willing to cut back on travel, she and her team worked over a weekend to model different scenarios for me and my husband to feel confident that we could move forward without compromising our financial security. We had a videoconference Monday morning with the advisory team—the financial planner calling in from his fishing cabin, the portfolio manager at home in her office, and my advisor (and friend) with three children in the background juggling seamlessly as women do.

It does not get more real than this. For every advisor who has worried about defending their fees to price-conscious clients, now is the time to earn them, and keep clients for life.

Advice from the heart.

Gail Graham is principal of Graham Strategy and previously served as chief marketing officer at United Capital.

First « 1 2 » Next