It is easy for financial advisors to become overwhelmed and lose focus right now – you have a family you’re working to keep safe, employees you’re managing remotely and trying to keep employed, clients who need your counsel, and a world full of uncertainty around you.
Escape and take another walk. Clear your head. Say all your fears and concerns out loud to yourself just to release them. Then sit down, bust out your pencil and/or open up an excel spreadsheet. It’s time to take back some control by knowing and owning your numbers.
Do You Have Enough Cash to Survive?
This one is pretty simple. And potentially painful, but knowledge is power. List all your monthly sources of income. Take a moment to note whether or not each will continue in the era of COVID-19. Then total it up.
Now, list all of your expenses. Again, take a moment to note whether or not each will continue in the COVID-19 era. Do you have any new expenses now that your employees are working remotely? Be sure to add those. At this point, do not delete any anticipated expenses you know you won’t spend. Total that up.
Subtract your expenses from your income. If the number is positive, great. Think about how long can that last. If the number is negative, do you have cash reserves to cover your business?
Learn How to Access Financial Assistance
If you need help, contact your local lender about the current status of the Coronavirus Relief Programs available through the U.S. Small Business Association (Editor’s note: as of the publication of this article, the SBA has announced that it has reached the limit on its Paycheck Protection Program and is no longer accepting applications. Congress is debating the President’s request for additional funding). Depending on the status of the federal relief programs, you may also want to ask about other lending options that may be available to you. Your lender can talk to you about your needs, and make a recommendation about program(s) you should apply for.
Examine Your Budgeted Discretionary Expenses
Moving on. On your expenses sheet, examine all the discretionary expenses you are not going to incur during the COVID-19 pandemic & recovery.
- Travel and conference registration fees? Nope. Most conferences have been cancelled through Q3. You’re not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
- Client & prospect entertainment? Not for the next few months at least, even locally.
- Teambuilding events or outings for your team? Uh-uh.
- Coffee and snacks in your office? Not until people can resume working out of the house.
- Giveaways to hand out to prospects and clients? Until you can meet people in person again, no.
- Office supplies? Maybe, but in smaller quantities.
Can you use some of this money to keep employees? Reward employees? Provide training to employees? You may also want to use this money to upgrade to a premium level of service in your digital and video communication tools.
Marketing and Business Development are Essential, not Discretionary
We will recover from this pandemic and the economic disruption it has caused. What can you be doing now to not only survive but thrive? You should continue to serve and retain your current clients while finding different ways to attract new clients. Digital media and communications are more important than ever to get you in front of clients and generate new leads. You may want to shift some of the money you won’t be spending on printed materials, conferences or give-aways, and invest in tools that help you reach clients in the ways they want to be reached.
- Videoconferences – you probably picked up a free basic subscription to a videoconference service when your employees began working from home. Ask them if it’s enough, or if you should upgrade to a paid subscription for increased bandwidth and functionality. Make sure your team is familiar with and able to communicate across several systems (i.e. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype and FaceTime) so you can reach clients through the platform on which they feel most comfortable and secure.
- Webcasts/Webinars – Webcasts and webinars are great opportunity to share your thinking and, depending on the system you use, capture valuable information about those who attend, including contact information and questions they ask, about which you can follow up. Once your live online event is over, you can archive it on your website and make it available to anyone who is willing to register for it, so you continue to collect information. Research Webcast or Webinar providers (i.e. WebEx, On24, and LiveMeeting) to make sure they provide the functionality you require before subscribing.
It is important to build a complete understanding of your financial situation, the relief available to you should you need it, and have a plan for what you can and should be doing differently to help your firm emerge from this environment in a position of strength.
Depend on no one else.
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