Coronacrash Advisor Insights: Wedbush Securities’ Ken Hutkin & 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 Ken Hutkin, Managing Director at Wedbush Securities 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?
Obviously we are in a challenging time. We have worked through other crises in the past including 1987, 1999, and 2008. While this is certainly a different situation that involves a pandemic, we also have advancements in technology.
We are able to remote in as a team. We conduct daily team video conferences, to go over our “to do list” and to discuss possible outcomes and solutions for our clients.
To help ensure an ‘as close to normal’ working environment as we can, we work as we are at our office, by maintaining a professional appearance and a consistent positive attitude that our clients rely on.
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?
Most importantly during this time, being compassionate and sensitive to everyone`s personal and family situation. There is no cookie-cutter experience, much like there is no cookie-cutter response. Some are applying for SBA loans, some are at their second homes with family relaxing, and others are very anxious.
Every client has a financial plan that we develop with them, which we update as necessary. While we are experiencing unprecedented challenges and volatility, we focus with our clients on the plan that continues to provide them with great comfort and some degree of certainty that they can continue to meet both their long and short term objectives and have them focus on their risk profile.
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?
There is a sea change occurring that we are benefiting from. Many who decided to go it alone through discount brokerage firms, have contacted us to do business and are now considering hiring us as their advisor. We spend a considerable amount of time on the phone with new prospects creating a roadmap to get through this and in the long term to meet their families’ objectives – and continue the conversation throughout our relationship. What you do now and how you treat both clients and new prospects will come back exponentially if you do the right thing.
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?
Like most during difficult short term periods, we take this opportunity to upgrade portfolios in companies with pristine balance sheets and visibility to weather this storm. There are many companies that we can now invest in that have become more attractive. This is the best time to have in-depth conversations with all our clients, to reaffirm our commitment to their families, and to frankly put in the hard work to position their portfolios to come out the other side of this crisis in even better shape.
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?
The best advice we can offer others is to pick up the phone and be honest. Own that it is difficult. Clients are smart and understand we are in a difficult time, but it’s up to us as their trusted advisor, to chart the path that works best for them. Be compassionate and most important, listen more than you speak. This will allow us to better understand their concerns, and assure them that you are working as hard as possible 24/7 to assist in any way you can.
For some, we are asked to participate in helping them secure the new SBA loans. Some clients just want to know that we care. A sincere phone call is the best therapy. We can be a steady rudder in the storm for many.
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?
I think the lesson learned is and will be that we are all in this together. COVID-19 doesn’t care how much money you have, the color of your skin, nor where you come from. If we can help a client, a prospect, a neighbor, a friend, it will benefit all of us in the end, and the world will be a better place. This crisis forces all of us to remind ourselves of our humanity, and that we all matter.