Coronacrash Advisor Insights: Aaron Wealth Advisors’ Gary Hirschberg & Tony Sirianni
AdvisorHub’s Publisher & CEO — Tony Sirianni — asked top advisors from leading firms their opinions on the dual management of the Coronavirus and market meltdown crises. Read how these advisors are managing one of the most unique challenges we have faced as a financial community.
Here is how Gary Hirschberg, CEO & Founding Partner of Aaron Wealth Advisors responded.
- So we’re in a new and challenging dynamic, where not only do our clients need us more than ever, but we have to change the tried and true way that we have always interacted with them. How are you handling the challenge of working remotely and managing clients? Is video conferencing effective? How do you maintain a sense of normalcy personally and professionally?
When Aaron Wealth was created, we purposely developed a system to work remotely. The intention was to enable us to hire advisors and support in various cities, but it has been a huge benefit to us given this unexpected crisis.
Many clients have come to adopt video conferencing and I think that will actually last beyond this crisis. As clients become used to this format, I can see incorporating it for quarterly meetings alongside larger face to face meetings.
- People who have never done this job don’t really understand how much psychiatry we do every day — how close we have to get to our clients to get them to tell us about their hopes and dreams and plans, nor do they realize how closely the physical fears of coronavirus and the all too real fear of financial ruin are so closely related. How are your clients reacting to the dual threat of Covid-19 and the market crash? What are you telling them?
Our clients, for the most part, are concerned about their health and those they love. We all are, and we are blessed to have such understanding families we work with on a regular basis. The market volatility, as difficult as it is to stomach, will pass and most clients understand that as long term investors. The challenge are clients that are relatively new to investing – helping them navigate natural human emotions and not jump out of the boat during the storm. Volatile periods like this also allow us to get a much better sense of these client’s risk tolerance, which is important to develop a long term strategic plan.
- What about your business? Are you just “maintaining” or are you growing? Is there an opportunity to build your book because other brokers are afraid to pick up the phone right now? How do you prospect without traditional client interactions during a market climate like this?
We are fortunate that we continue to bring on new clients during this environment, however, most approached us to make a switch. Traditional prospecting in this environment is not possible and probably would be harmful. The only thing an advisor can do is to reach out to their prospects and just check in with them personally. Once this crisis ends, they will remember you thought about them and their family and will give you the opportunity to win their business.
- Things are down, but somebody must be making money. Where do you see opportunity in the market? Are you recommending any investments right now to clients, or suggesting they exit certain investments or sectors? Do you have any sense of where to invest post crisis? Or are you riding out the storm?
We entered this year more cautious and tactically raised cash in mid-January. We never would have thought that we would be in this type of crisis but once the markets were down 30%+ we started to reinvest this cash or put new cash to work. We see opportunities in the specialty high yield municipal markets, secondary private equity, and selling volatility.
- What’s been the most useful piece of technology or advice that you could suggest to other advisors who are trying to cope in these circumstances, particularly some technology or business practice that you have discovered or rediscovered during this crisis that you will use in your business going forward?
Like many people, we have found Zoom to be incredibly useful during this time. We will most likely incorporate Zoom well beyond this crisis in the business since it is so efficient.
- I’ve got a feeling that we are getting to know each other a little better these days. Whether we hear kids and dogs in the background of a conference call, or see some interesting choices in clothing and grooming on Zoom, we are “getting real” with each other in an out of the corporate world type of way. I’m seeing the best advisors create truly holistic experiences for their nervous clients, and helping folks in ways above and beyond what a “traditional” financial advisor would normally do. What’s happening in your world during this crazy time that you will take with you into the post corona world that will help you grow your business and deepen your client relationships?
The experience of dealing with nervous clients in an incredible volatile environment will be an experience that will strengthen an advisor’s pedigree. I built a successful business during the 2008-2009 environment and look back at that time as my true training as an advisor. On a personal note, I share with all my clients the struggles of being two working parents with elementary school kids but are working hard for them. It helps them keep things in perspective and remember that we are all in the same boat.
One of the biggest value adds recently has been helping clients through the PPP loan process. This is a confusing time and banks are struggling to keep up, so as independent advisors we help clients keep informed and access the right resources if they need it.
Aaron Wealth is a member of the Dynasty Network.