Financial advisor Chris Lund is getting more referrals than ever, despite abandoning his public office months ago amid the coronavirus shutdown.
"We've had tremendous growth here," said Lund, president and founder of Lund Wealth Management in Plainville, Mass. "In a crisis, if you're doing things well, it is an opportunity to shine. It's also an opportunity where people realize, 'Oh, maybe I'm not getting the sort of attention that I need.'"
Lund participated in a panel discussion this week on how the pandemic changed the business of financial advice, sponsored by the Insured Retirement Institute. The trade association replaced its annual meeting with its Supply Claim Summit, a series of Wednesday sessions.
Lund was skiing in Vermont when the initial shutdown shock hit: the mountains were closed. By that evening, a Sunday night, he learned that Foxborough, Mass., schools were closing. He began to realize that clients were going to be shut in for a while and mobilized his office to respond fast.
"We need to communicate with them that they're going to be OK, even though we're going through this market shock in its forced economic turnoff," he recalled. "So we put together a care package that we sent to clients. It had puzzles, playing cards, things along those lines, and we literally went to Target and grocery stores, anywhere we could think of to get supplies."
Then there were the basic considerations for running the business.
"We needed to have someone there at least daily," he said. "We came up with a game plan. We have one staff member who would come in half the day and we never had any more than one person in the office at any one time. So that was kind of a process that we didn't anticipate and had to work through."
Social Media Growth
Lund and Julie Murphy, advisor with LPL Financial, both hailed the use and growth of their social media profiles since the virus shutdown.
"We moved heavily toward social media, using LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook and posting throughout the week on different topics and different things going on with the financial markets and politically and legislation," Lund said. "We've used that in the vein of communication, and we started using Facebook ads. And honestly, it's an experimentation."
In February, Murphy was getting maybe 40 likes and a few shares of her social media posts. After the coronavirus shut everything down, those numbers shot up to 650 likes and about half as many shares. The key, she said, is to be yourself and let some personality out.
"I actually am paying nothing for ads and I'm having way more expansion," said Murphy, who described her business as a "100% referral" firm. "And I don't care if people fall away. Because they're not meant to follow me. And the ones that are supposed to will gravitate towards you."
Murphy, founder of JMC Wealth in Chicago, has plans in the works to start online courses over the coming weeks to further cement her online presence.
To Change Or Not To Change
Panelists were asked what pandemic changes they hope will become permanent, as well as which changes they look forward to ending. John Pinkley, an advisor with Raymond James, had the same answer to both questions.
Based in Orlando, Pinkley likes that he does not have to do so many face-to-face meetings. Most of the time, they just aren't necessary, he said.
"After this happened, we realized, 'I really don't have to do that,'" he said. "and put up with what goes along with face-to-face meetings -- traffic, parking, elevators, it's raining, I have to take a shower this morning."
But most of the time is not all of the time. And those rare but crucial face-to-face meetings were sorely missed in recent months, Pinkley quickly added.
"I've had several, unfortunately, clients pass away in the last six months," he said. "It's been really unsettling and sad and difficult not to be able to see those people. They want me to come see them and or come to my office to get things squared away. To me, that's a traumatic time.
"That has been the most upsetting for both sides, and I'll be glad when that is no longer the reality."
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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