The Changing Face of Planning?

It’s been a little more than three months since the stock market craziness began and just over two months since the lockdown started. So much has happened since then it seems like a year already. I recently heard someone with an impending birthday joke that they’re skipping this year because they didn’t use it. I don’t know about you, but although I’m optimistic about the rest of this year part of me agrees with that sentiment.

These have been some of my most challenging months in business. Challenging not just in the sense of day-to-day work, but also mentally. As I’m sure has been the case for you, the last few months have been stressful and worrisome for me. So much uncertainty and so many mundane aspects of life upended. Following virus news has been a task all by itself, not to mention all the market and economic updates. But while much of this has been negative, enough has been positive that I’m hopeful about the future.

There are signs, although some are only barley flickering, that we’ve passed through the worst of the market impact of the virus and maybe also “the bottom” for our economy. If history is any guide there’s a strong possibility for a second shock to stocks in the coming months, but hopefully not nearly as bad as we saw in late-February and March.

The economy may also be starting its long slog out of the hole we’re in. Some have referred to their expectations for a “V-shaped” recovery, but it’s likely to look more like what others have termed a “Nike Swoosh” recovery. If you think about it a moment that makes intuitive sense: a deep drop followed by a long and hopefully steady ascent toward normalcy. I don’t know anyone reasonable who expects this process to be quick. And that’s just the financial aspects of recovery.

As markets and eventually the broader economy recover the social impacts of the pandemic will take longer to play out. We’ve been told to expect a “new normal”, but what will that look like? Will everyday life experience a V-shaped recovery, or will something like social distancing linger long after the effects of coronavirus wear off?

From my own little corner of the world I’m wondering how concepts like this will ultimately impact the nature and business of financial planning. Surely, planning has never been more important, even in the face of extreme uncertainty. Recent events may have forced your plans to change, or your perspective may have shifted during this crisis. One of the many things our current predicament has revealed to me is that the way we work together needs to be more flexible.

I’ve never been one to drag clients into my office so they can hear about things that are important to me but less so to them. This is why I don’t make clients come in every quarter, or even every year, if there isn’t a specific reason to do so. So much these days can be accomplished through phone, email, and now video conversations, that coming into the office seems less essential.

Though nothing beats in-person communication, the way we accomplish it is changing. If you had not heard of video conferencing before, you now know all about it. Tens of millions of Americans have been getting a crash course in the technology during this crisis. Face-to-face communication through the medium of your smartphone or computer monitor is now so popular and convenient that its likely to stick around. The trend had been growing steadily in recent years but, as with so much else these days, coronavirus has accelerated adoption.

Case in point, I’ve sparingly used screensharing and video with clients for a while but have been generally slow to adopt the technology. I’ve now used it more in the last few months than in the last five years combined. It’s just too convenient and helpful. We get to meet from wherever you are, with no concerns about traffic or parking. We can see each other’s screens to share information and, as the mood strikes you, can even see each other.

As it turns out this morning marks the second conference I’m attending virtually this month. In recent years I would have spent today and tomorrow in San Francisco and the other conference would have been in Denver. Both are now in the comfort of my office, my house, even I my car. While I have no intention of going entirely virtual with clients and hope to get to physically go to a conference again soon, video is a powerful and convenient way for us to communicate that should make your life easier.

I love financial planning and working with you to ensure your long-term success. The difficult times in my career have only served to confirm this, and the current crisis is no exception. As we move forward out of this pandemic together, I want to ensure that I’m being flexible enough to meet your changing needs. Leveraging video is a natural outcome of this.

Additionally, here’s a mildly optimistic article from The Wall Street Journal. As stated at the end, our ultimate path forward is dependent on the path of the virus, but it’s good to see economic activity perking up a bit.

Have questions? Ask me. I can help.

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