Coronacrash Update: Ameriprise Financial’s Jim Cracchiolo & Tony Sirianni
AdvisorHub’s Publisher & CEO — Tony Sirianni — asked executives from top firms their opinions on the dual management of the Coronavirus and market meltdown crises. Read how leadership is managing one of the most unique challenges we have faced as a financial community.
Here is how Jim Cracchiolo, Chairman and CEO of Ameriprise Financial, Inc. responded.
The last few weeks have been unprecedented and unexpected, a perfect storm if you will, of management challenges both on the employee and client level. You have had to deal with employee safety issues that no CEO has training for, and a directly correlated market crash. What have you implemented at your firm to address this dual threat?
As you’d expect, the safety and wellbeing of our employees and advisors is our top priority. Ameriprise remains open for business. We have a responsibility to effectively serve our clients with as minimal disruption as possible – and that’s our focus. That said, we pivoted quickly to having the vast majority of our employees and advisors work remotely. They’re utilizing the full range of technology, capabilities, support staff and leaders we have in place to seamlessly serve our clients. This is an unprecedented and challenging time, but we have an outstanding network of people dedicated to helping clients and advisors through it.
How about the continuing market volatility? What are you telling your advisors to do and what are you hearing from clients?
Our clients need the advice and guidance we provide — in times like this more than ever. In addition to making sure our employees are safe, our nearly 10,000 financial advisors are helping clients navigate the volatile market environment with personal advice and informed perspective.
Our Investment Research Group, which is made up of seasoned investment professionals who have decades of experience, provides ongoing research that covers daily market movements, sectors, fixed income and macro market and economic trends. We’re making this information, as well as a wealth of perspectives from well-respected asset managers, available to advisors and clients through a series of calls, emails, research reports and social media posts.
As investors try to make sense of a rapidly changing economic scenario, our experts are monitoring the environment and making adjustments to asset allocation models and forecasts as necessary. We’re also reminding clients that their portfolios are constructed based on their unique risk tolerance, time horizon and goals. In the midst of everything they are reading in the news and facing on a personal level, our clients can take comfort in the fact that they have an advisor who knows them, cares about them and is working with the backing of Ameriprise to help them through this challenging time. We feel very good about that.
What about the economy longer term? Where do you think we will be in 6 months, and how can advisors and their clients take advantage of that long term direction?
Clearly, the spread of COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on the economy and markets. Now isn’t the time to make predictions about how long or severe it will end up being, because information is changing by the minute. However, this isn’t our first crisis as a country, and it’s not the first crisis our company has been through as a result of conditions outside of our control. Ameriprise has been in business for over 125 years, and we have a proven track record of expertly navigating uncertain economic cycles and volatile market environments. While we don’t know exactly what tomorrow or the next day will bring, I’m confident that we are taking the right actions now to support the safety of our employees and advisors while providing much-needed support and service to our clients. That’s our focus and we’re doing it well.
What about your business? What do you think the long term impact of this dual crisis will be on the advisor business model?
Advice is going to be more important than ever. Ameriprise was a pioneer in financial planning decades ago and it remains core in everything we do. Right now, while the world is shifting so quickly, advice is exactly what clients are looking for. As a company, we are experienced and well-equipped to provide it, even in the face of so much uncertainty.
I’d also add that the last few weeks underscore the vital role that technology plays in our industry. Firms like ours that have invested in digital tools that enable their advisors to serve clients whenever and however they want are seeing the benefit of that at a magnitude we’ve never experienced before. I think going forward it’s going to be even more of an expectation that firms deliver that kind of value and innovation for the end user – clients – but also for the advisors themselves. They want to affiliate with a firm that knows how to harness smart technology and integrate it within the advisors’ practices seamlessly.
So these things tend to bring out the good and the bad in people. What has most encouraged you, what have you seen that’s reaffirmed your faith in our community and how it’s handling these difficult times?
Seeing our advisors and employees come together so quickly and effectively to help our clients navigate this crisis has been truly heartening. We know how to mobilize quickly in difficult situations, and that’s certainly been true over the last few weeks. I’ve also been touched by the level of care I’ve seen people extend for one another – whether it’s co-workers, friends, family, neighbors or even strangers. I’ve seen countless instances of people offering to help others through this crisis. I believe that’s what will help us get through it in the end.