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Douglas Boneparth’s Work-From-Home Secrets

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Douglas Boneparth, president of RIA Bone Fide Wealth in New York, is sheltering in place in Westfield, New Jersey, with two kids, 1 and 4, along with his wife and mother-in-law.  

He took a “break” from his new work/life schedule to share his views on how to best serve clients and take care of yourself during the coronavirus pandemic.

THINKADVISOR: What are your clients asking you? 

DOUGLAS BONEPARTH: What they should do. Now, they’re in two camps.

Most clients are younger, long-term investors and they’re mostly inquiring about how to take advantage of opportunities regarding dips in the market. That’s the optimistic crowd of long-term thinkers.

On the other side, you have folks who want to know when and where this thing bottoms and how bad it can get. And there’s no easy answer for that right now, but you do your best to set expectations.

Financial planning is the best tool we have to set those expectations.

How are you working with clients from home?

I reserve the daytime when the markets are open to place any transactions or trades or deal with any emergencies and other things that need to be taken care of quickly.

The evening, after the kids have gone to bed, is for calls that I’ve set up  about financial planning, discussions about strategy, more elaborate calls with less urgency. 

That’s how I’ve divided up my day. That allows me to help my family at home during the daytime. It’s very hard to dedicate an hour to some tasks during the day.  

How are you making it work? Any best practices?

Be very mindful of your time, because how you spend your time can be challenging with work, life and family.

But one thing I’ve found to be very effective is what I’ve created. It’s a more customized system that’s capable of handling orders and decisions that have come in. 

I’m getting a lot of calls about when do we rebalance, when do we become more risky and when do we invest cash. That’s a lot of people across the entire practice asking for something to be done. 

It has to be systematized. Basically, using a spreadsheet and our CRM system, I’ve created a way to take in all that information and get it in one place. 

This means that if certain entry points are hit  like if the market falls 30%  there are people who want to take action, and I can execute. All the information is one place for me to look at. 

It’s easy for me to jump to the computer and use one-click rebalancing and a lot of the technology that makes the trading part easy.     

What’s the top challenge with working from home?

The hardest part right now is [juggling] two working professionals and two kids. My 1-year-old has an ear infection, or so we think. We have to cook meals and entertain. And there’s dealing with the needs of the clients, and the family. 

It’s a balancing act of everything  the enormity of it all  is the biggest challenge. I’m coming at this with a young parent’s perspective.

There’s always someone crying and wanting to do something other than what you’re doing. 

My wife works for a Fortune 500 company, so we have to balance our careers and what we can do. It’s insane in so many ways, and yet we’ve got it under control, too, in our own ways. 

How are you taking breaks during the coronavirus crisis?  

When the weather’s good, we get outside as much as possible and do as many walks as we can. We’ve driven the kids around in the car to get outside of our neighborhood, driving to no place in particular. 

If we get a moment, my wife and I will go for a drive and just talk — very simple stuff, but it’s certainly helpful. At night, after the kids go to bed, I do reading, writing and tweeting — mostly humor and by being a little cynical, using sarcasm here and there.

For me personally, that’s cathartic. Humor is a way I cope with all this. That’s always been something I do. And people seem to like it.

(Boneparth, CFP, and his firm are affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network.)

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