Coronacrash Advisor Insights: Janney Montgomery Scott’s Nathan Snyder & 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 Nathan Snyder, EVP/Investments, Financial Advisor with Bishop Wealth Management Group at Janney Montgomery Scott responded.
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 & professionally?
We service over $1B in client assets spread out over numerous families and institutions with 6 advisors and a team of 12. We believe in a high touch client service model, centering on a long-term investment strategy and financial planning. We typically meet with our clients face to face as often as we can or the client needs for us to. Our meetings focus on long-term issues like estate and legacy planning, retirement, buying a second home, or setting up a cash balance planner 401(k) for a business owner, among many other issues unrelated to the public markets.
The technology bubble, the financial crisis and now Covid-19 create the rare instances where markets drive the client interaction. Given the recent market volatility, we would typically have face-to-face meetings with every one of our clients so the current situation is a bit of a change from our normal routine. We have been through severe market disruptions in the past. Our volume of outbound calls is always higher than inbound calls, especially over the last several weeks. Use of video conferencing is available for clients who are willing or able to use this option.
In order to maintain some semblance of normalcy our team meets daily via video conference. Our team video conferences provide a sense of togetherness during this isolation. Our investment team talks every day conference call as well.
How are your clients reacting to the dual threat of Covid-19 and the market crash? What are you telling them?
A virus changes the conversation a bit, mainly because we have all become closet virologists and bio-statisticians. We are all trying to understand this confusing new environment. Sticking to a long-term investment perspective mitigates the need to guess the markets.
We start our process with a financial plan for each family or institution. We tailor investment portfolios to match the return objectives of our plans with the least amount of risk. Our long-term clients observed the power of that approach during the last two crises. Newer clients do not have that experience yet; however, given the average asset allocation of our clients, our newer clients can see the benefit of risk management through a specific portfolio asset allocation.
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 focus on what we can control. We believe that our growth comes from serving our current clients. When we maintain a high level of service at a moment of adversity, we are fulfilling that mission. If we successfully guide our clients through the vicissitudes of their financial journey, they will find success. If they find success with our help they will refer their friends and loved ones to us.
Market stress like we are experiencing now serves as a test of the long-term investment strategies already in place, and demonstrate the effectiveness of our planning. We view this time as an opportunity to review financial plans and portfolios, and make adjustments where appropriate.
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?
As part of our disciplined approach to investing, we rebalance our portfolios when any asset class causes a significant deviation from our long-term asset allocation targets. Given the recent market, equities provide an opportunity for investment/reinvestment. It’s reasonable to expect more volatility in the markets. Therefore, we are carefully assessing the risk involved.
Again, these markets provide an opportunity for some long term planning. We are taking tax losses where we can and building cash from maturing bonds to position portfolios for equity investments at the appropriate time. We do not guess the bottoms of markets so we will dollar cost average our investments into these equity markets.
There are many unknowns right now, and the outcome is still a mystery. We continue to gather information and consider the historical trends for what may come. What history tells us is that we should be patient and invest systematically into bear markets.
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 you will use in your business going forward?
The best piece of technology we have at our disposal is nothing new, the phone. Call your clients. We all need to process this fast moving and novel environment. If you want your clients to trust you and follow your advice, be there to listen to them during moments like these.
A financial plan is an equally useful device. In moments of transition and upheaval we all need to fall back on plans that can withstand stress. Bring out the financial plan. Review those plans. Update or revise those plans.
Any service you can use to share a plan remotely given our collective stay at home status can be of service. Video conferencing will likely see its renaissance because of our forced circumstances. Get used to it.
What’s happening in your world during this crazy time that you will take with you in the post corona world that will help you grow your business and deepen your client relationships?
We will learn a lot from this time. Every day seems to present a new data point and new twist to the unfolding environment. We believe in the value of perspective, and right now we do not have enough perspective to guess the lessons we will learn. We continue to rely on our experience and discipline to guide us through this period. Hopefully we will get one more data point to support our beliefs.