As it turns out, many financial advisors welcomed the convenience of working from home during the pandemic. Not Vincent D. Crudo.
That’s stunning, since he suffered a spinal cord injury in 2013 that rendered him a quadriplegic at age 48.
After that catastrophic biking accident, family and friends tried to persuade the paralyzed Crudo not to return to work; but the 34-year financial services veteran refused to take the advice.
Little more than a year after the accident, he was back in his office at RBC Wealth Management and meeting with clients.
But he resigned this spring after 12 years with the firm. And RBC’s decision to close branches amid the pandemic — making him unable to work in his office in Hartford, Connecticut — was a major reason why.
“I felt strongly that since we’re a full-service industry, not a robo-advisor or an app, closing offices was just wrong,” Crudo tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview.
In May, he moved to Janney Montgomery Scott, which has kept its headquarters and branches open during the health crisis.
“Our policy is for employees to work from home. [But] if they choose to work from an office, they can” as long as they follow our protocols and government guidelines, a Janney spokesperson says.
In the interview, Crudo, senior vice president- investments and now based in Westbrook, Connecticut, discusses his medical trauma — which included complications requiring surgery — and the important role longtime clients played in his recovery.
But as a 50%-transactional FA, it was keeping up with the stock market daily, thanks to The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, during his long rehabilitation that gave him “optimism about life and doing my job,” the father of three with wife Kristen says.
Now 56, Crudo manages about $120 million in assets of high-net-worth individuals and families, plus corporations.
With a background that includes institutional investing, he also works with financial institutions, such as a publicly traded bank, which have assets ranging from $100 million up to $15 billion.
An experienced road and mountain cyclist, Crudo suffered an upper cervical injury when he was thrown from his mountain bike one holiday weekend in Vermont. He cannot walk and has limited use of his arms.
The advisor spent four months in a rehabilitation hospital and underwent another year of extensive physical therapy.
He is now directing much of his energy toward expanding his business by helping clients with disabilities, especially those who have also suffered spinal cord injuries.
At RBC, the former Little League active volunteer, was a member of the President’s Council.
Previously, he was with Citigroup/Smith Barney for 19 years and in SB’s Institutional Fixed Income Group. At the firm, he rose to Directors Council member.
An email and phone call to RBC to determine its current policy on branch reopenings went unanswered.
An online, undated company post indicates that the firm is “developing plans to gradually return employees to RBC premises.”
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed Crudo, speaking by phone from his Westbrook office.
He explains: “I’m able to marry work with a physical and occupational therapy regimen to keep gradually improving.
“I’m lucky enough go to through the years developing a routine that works for me using the resources I have.”
Here are highlights of our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: It’s surprising that after your catastrophic accident, you resumed your job as a financial advisor. You must have been highly motivated, right?
VINCE CRUDO: A lot of people — family, friends, colleagues — advised against returning to work. Thank God I didn’t listen to them! To stay at home and not be engaged was something I was unwilling to do.
I know people that have been injured and relegated to being in bed, not being out and about. But that’s not me.
How long was it from the time of your accident in 2013 to when you were back at your job?
A year and a few months. It felt like an eternity.
You were injured riding a mountain bike. Would you tell me what happened?
I was an avid biker, on both road and mountain bike. On Columbus Day weekend, we were in Vermont at a house we had there.
I went over a jump too slowly [to clear], and went over the handlebars. The rest is history. We were supposed to come home that day. But it didn’t work out as planned.
How did you cope when the doctor told you that you were paralyzed?
It wasn’t easy. It’s a diagnosis that nobody wants to get. When you hear the word quadriplegic, you envision someone being pretty much bedridden, and that was my first reaction.
Initially, when you’re hurt, the first thing you want to do is walk. It takes a while for it to sink in that you’re probably not going to. There isn’t a cure for spinal cord injury. Mine was an upper cervical injury.
What sort of therapy did you have?
What helps with a neuromuscular disease or injury is occupational and physical therapy. Within the first weeks of being hurt, I had extensive rehabilitation.
There are things you can do to gradually improve — and that’s what I’ve been doing.
I was lucky enough to have good support — both family and colleagues. And I have a great aide that’s been with me for six years.
You were at a rehab hospital for four months, and then there was another year of therapy. Did you keep up with the stock market all that time?