Everyone is spending a lot more time at home these days. Those of us fortunate enough to still be working are working from home. We’re cooking, cleaning, eating, teaching, gardening, binge watching and more.
Most important, we’re connecting with those closest to us while also exploring new ways to maintain isolated contact with others we know and care for. We’re relearning what “home” means and feels like, and hopefully this piece will inspire you to reflect more on this topic.
The new concept of being home is changing the way many of us think about a lot of things, including our work life.
Consider for a moment how many of your co-workers and clients you have digitally invited into your home for the first time. You might have thought about whether the space you’re showing fits the brand you want to portray — the colors, décor or a small child looking to sit on your lap.
In our own industry I’m hearing that more advisors are considering the question, “Where is my home for the next five-, 10- or 20 years? Am I truly where I want to be?”
Alongside the growing number of advisors with mature practices looking for a planned transition, this appears to be a key reason why the trend of advisors moving into the independent space continues almost unabated during the pandemic.
Simply put, working from home has re-emphasized the importance of connection and community in our lives. Plus, the current situation has helped advisors to focus on two distinct types of community: that of our professional lives and that of our personal lives, which in many cases also will include clients.
The fact is, in a “normal work week” (whatever that means anymore), many of us probably spend just as much time interacting with our colleagues and clients as we do with our families.
Although it’s always been valuable, the current situation has helped advisors, particularly those identifying as independent, to explore the importance of being part of a supportive community of professionals that share their values. And such communities already exist.
If you’re an advisor who wants to talk with other professionals about investment strategies, the latest tech tools, practice management or how to run your business, there are lots of forums available.
But many advisors today are looking to connect on a deeper level with their peers and their clients.
Too often when clients want to talk about things that matter to them beside money, advisors find themselves at a loss for how to have those conversations.
As an industry we spend a lot of time talking about the need of getting to know the client on a deep and personal level, which has to include a discussion of personal values. But a huge gap exists between the perception and the reality.
The best advisors, those who truly adopt a holistic approach, spend a lot of time talking to clients about a wide range of topics — not just their wealth, but also their health, their purpose and their values.
There are also many advisors that connect with clients on how these real human endeavors are not measured by wealth, but rather how the decisions made around wealth are in alignment to them.
Certainly, there are forums where advisors can convene to talk about deeper topics, but they are not always easy to find. One is Kingdom Advisors, a faith-based organization that includes advisors affiliated with a number of firms.
About four years ago when I first attended one of their events, I asked quite a few of the advisors I met, “Why are you here?”
With a remarkably high degree of consistency they said, “Because it really fuels me — it’s a place where I can go and talk about things I can’t talk about at my firm.”
The unifying factor for Kingdom Advisors is faith, but the important point is that participants are looking to make a connection with peers who share their feelings and values — people they can call to share ideas and solutions to client problems.
It’s in these types of communities, which are driven by our values and beliefs, that advisors can find true support to elevate their personal and professional pursuits. These communities positively impact advisors and the clients they serve.
Keeping Clients Calm
As an example of how advisors can maintain the community with their clients, I’d like to point to my own personal advisor Ted Contag of Parable Wealth Partners, an independent practice affiliated with Thrivent in Edina, Minnesota.
Ted’s firm is doing a number of things to maintain a sense of community during this time when face-to-face contact is at a minimum. Among their goals is to calm clients’ fears and offer some positive news.
Responding to the panic that many investors are wrestling with they’ve hosted a number of webinars focusing on behavioral finance and how to maintain stability in times of crisis.
Parable Wealth Partners also has attempted to bring their client community together to crowd-source philanthropy, such as raising funds for a local charity that focuses on making sure children have enough to eat.
This not only creates a shared mission among their clients but also helps get funding to an important effort when it’s most needed.
A third effort they make is especially important in a time when the whole country is struggling to find some hope, not just financially, but in every area of our lives.
In a recent email to clients, Parable Wealth Partners noted that although “we’ve been traveling through a dark tunnel … we’re seeing a glimmer of light ahead, reminding us that we continue to move forward.”
The message then went on to share the latest information from Minnesota health officials and positive local stories about people sharing their time, abilities, relationships and finances — their true wealth, as well as an update on the national situation, and what’s happening in the financial world.
The efforts of Parable Wealth Partners demonstrate how being part of a community becomes especially important in times of crisis like we’re currently experiencing.
Not only are advisors helping their clients deal with massive upheaval in the markets and in their investment portfolios, but like everyone else, they’re dealing with living through a pandemic and working in isolation.
That’s when having peers that understand what you’re going through, who can offer suggestions and support, becomes invaluable. And advisors can take that spirit of community and use it to build stronger relationships with their clients. who also hunger for a sense of belonging and people they can feel at home with.
It was John Donne, the English poet, and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, who wrote, “No man is an island” to express the idea that human beings need to be part of a community to be at their best. It was true in the 1600s, and it’s true today.
No advisor can do their best work in isolation. They need peers who understand what they are going through and can offer possible solutions, or at least serve as a sounding board.
Building and maintaining a community of like-minded individuals takes time and effort. But in the end the benefits are worth the effort.
Luke Winskowski, CFP, is Head of Thrivent Advisor Network at Thrivent, where he and his team work to help provide what advisors need to run their business efficiently while bringing it to the next level.