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26 views on how to safeguard your wealth portfolio amid coronavirus, economic turmoil

The Business Journal asked financial advisers serving the San Francisco North Bay what investors should be doing to safeguard and growth their wealth amid the coronavirus pandemic and turbulent economy. Here are insights from 26 local professionals.

Bill Bockwoldt
Bill Bockwoldt

Bill Bockwoldt

Adviser and principal

Private Ocean

100 Smith Ranch Rd. Suite 300, San Rafael 94903

415-788-1952

www.privateocean.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Our relationships are stronger. Uncertainty provides an opportunity to engage more deeply with clients and in this case we are all impacted and have a shared experience. The pandemic has created an opportunity to re-examine our daily lives, longer-term goals, and what is most important to us as individuals and for our families.

Clients aren’t requesting anything more than an opportunity to talk and ask questions. And I have been surprised by the number of clients calling just to check in on us – to see how we are doing during this hectic time.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

Our strategy has been to look for opportunities to rebalance and/or tax-loss harvest during the market volatility earlier in the year. We are now rebalancing again in some cases as equities have risen since the initial fall in March.

Overall clients are not generally requesting any changes in activity levels although they are sharing that they are doing less and spending less which is not surprising.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

We continue to update our business planning around information provided from local organizations and state requirements. So far we are maintaining location flexibility between home and office that works for our staff and we do not anticipate permanent changes based on what we know today. We will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions as necessary that support the best interests of our clients and staff.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

We advise clients to engage in a review of their individual situation in light of current events and longer-term trends. In periods of greater market volatility, it is important to review their financial plan to confirm they remain on a strong path, and to put current financial events in the context of long-term or historical trends.

As individuals, our conviction to “this time it’s different” is generally strongest just before it turns out not to be different and shorter-term trends revert to longer-term averages. Our clients are comfortable with this approach because they recognize that at the end of the day the health of their financial plan is what matters most.

We also remind clients to focus on what they can control (savings and spending) vs. things they can’t (market returns and inflation).

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

Yes, we are seeing increases in both inquiries from prospective clients and new clients joining the firm. We typically see more interest and engagement in periods of market and economic uncertainty. And working with a professional on comprehensive financial planning can bring clarity to a client’s overall situation and provide critical information for making well-informed decisions.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

The risk for each of us as individual investors is in letting our emotions drive our decision-making based on recent events and near-term expectations. This can lead to an investing strategy based on a mixture of emotional fear or greed that is not aligned with an Investor’s long-term goals. This is why we continue to recommend diversification and investment allocations designed to support the financial objectives of our clients over their lifetimes.

Stephen Janachowski, Peg Pike and Christian Thwaites
Stephen Janachowski, Peg Pike and Christian Thwaites

Stephen Janachowski, CEO; Peg Pike, chief operating officer; and Christian Thwaites, chief analyst

Brouwer & Janachowski, LLC

100 Shoreline Highway, Suite B101, Mill Valley 94941

www.BandJadvisors.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

We have always maintained close relationships with clients—face-to-face meetings, regular phone conversations, email updates and video conference calls.

Since COVID precautions have prevented in-person meetings, we have been able to connect via virtual face-to-face video calls. It’s almost as effective and allows us to stay in close touch. Since clients are isolated, it’s even more important that we over-communicate to help them maintain control of their finances in a turbulent time. We have also increased our communication with client conference calls and webinars on important financial topics, such as Medicare, Health Care, Long-Term Care, and economic and market updates.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

People have been concerned not only about COVID’s near-term disruption to the economy and markets, but the long-term impact and how it will affect their finances and retirement.

We had already taken steps to reduce risk and volatility in client portfolios, emphasizing key portfolio components that we felt would do well in this uncertain environment—U.S. Treasury securities and high-quality large U.S. company equities.

We also took advantage of the recent market drop to rebalance client portfolios, adding to equities at lower prices. The rally in the second quarter has allowed us to take a fresh look at client objectives and adjust their portfolios accordingly. In every crisis, there is opportunity.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

It isn’t likely that COVID will be resolved until sometime in 2021.

Until the economy gets back on its feet and business and people are back to normal activities, we plan to focus on capital protection, risk mitigation, and frequent communication to keep our clients informed.

The disruptions will gradually return to normal, but it will take time.

One positive has been our ability to quickly adapt to the changing environment in our workplace. We’re continually updating our disaster recovery program.

Several years ago, we implemented cloud technology which allowed us to work remotely during last year’s California fires, and is now proving effective in allowing us to seamlessly work with our clients remotely.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course - how’s that advice received by clients.

Capital protection, diversification, and high-quality investments remain critical for our clients. We are always looking for opportunities, but we are in an environment where capital preservation should be the primary driver for investment decisions. Clients have also been concerned about COVID and its impact on the economy and are in agreement with this “safety first” focus.

Finally, we constantly remind our clients that discipline is key to success. Investing based on emotion, which often occurs during periods of panic or euphoria, never ends well.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty? Or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this?

During extremely volatile economic and market environments, most investors want to speak with a live person to discuss their finances and make sure that they’re making smart decisions with their money. They don’t want to trust key decisions to a computer software program, and they don’t want to leave voice messages on a toll-free 1-800 phone number. Being immediately responsive has been a key differentiator in keeping current clients happy while attracting new clients.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Two potentially costly mistakes to avoid:

1. Selling everything in your portfolio and moving to cash after a market downturn. The risk is locking in losses and missing the market recovery.

2. Jumping into the market after strong recovery rallies. The risk is buying into a fleeting market run-up before another downturn.

Lesley Cannan
Lesley Cannan

Lesley Cannan, CFP

Senior adviser

Litman Gregory Asset Management

100 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 204, Larkspur 94939

925-254-8999

www.lgam.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Listening is always the priority in my role as adviser.

We are all impacted by this pandemic and have had to adapt our lives. Every one of us is working, learning, and living remotely. We are all concerned for the health and well-being of our children, our parents, and ourselves.

In many cases we have communication with each of these generations, which is both an honor and advantage when it comes to our collaboration and consistency of advice. As a result of this shared experience I feel more connected with clients than perhaps at any other time.

We are always considering the risks and optimal positioning and coverages for a client’s resources. The services we are providing in the current environment are not drastically different than what we were doing pre-pandemic.

That said the dramatic pullback in the first quarter prompted a revisit of client cash needs analysis and served as a reminder to review health care directives. Tax planning is a constant and coming into the year we were diving into the impacts of the SECURE Act and then added the provisions within the CARES Act to our evaluation coming out of the first quarter.

Most of our clients already have secured a low-rate mortgage but for some the latest cut has made it again financially attractive to pursue another round of refinancing. And in many ways its business as usual—transferring funds for home improvement projects, directing gifts to charitable organizations, setting up college savings plans for children and grandchildren, etc.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

Our clients have not acted within their portfolios irrespective of our ongoing management, but activity has increased driven by our discipline for maintaining a consistent risk profile for our strategies.

This is important as it is when a client portfolio is exposed to more (or less) risk than they are comfortable that they consider acting on their own irrespective of the strategy in place.

Our strategies are diversified and while each investment was impacted in the downturn some less than others. When the U.S. stock market fell through a 25% decline, we took the opportunity to incrementally increase our target allocation to equities funding from fixed-income and alternative investments, which held up better during the period (as was expected). We may have another opportunity should the markets reverse course to add again.

Rebalancing and setting target allocations to maintain the level of risk of a portfolio often presents the ability to minimize the tax impact of a portfolio’s investments and insists in extreme dislocations that we pursue opportunities for return precisely when risk aversion may pull us towards the certainty of cash or the perceived safety of inaction.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to be permanent, or if not, why not?

We are fortunate our firm’s leadership and business continuity teams had made technology and security a priority well ahead of the current need for a fully virtual workplace.

There was high adoption of remote work resources across our firm employees and partners going into the shelter-in-place order that quickly was embraced by all shortly following.

The biggest shift has come from our clients in their willingness to adjust how we engage to align with the recommendations of health officials.

Hard copy mailings are all now electronic with very few exceptions and in-person meeting have been substituted with Zoom. For many reasons including security, environmental considerations, and simply the adoption of new habits I cannot envision a return to the level of printing and mailings we had been sending pre-pandemic.

Zoom has been a great option to “see” our clients and I expect it will continue to play a role for some time particularly for clients where air travel is needed to meet in person. That said, I miss sitting face to face with clients and look forward to when it is safe for us to do so.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course, how’s that advice received by clients.

We came into this period with portfolios designed to support each client’s specific financial situation and to provide resiliency across a range of economic scenarios.

Without minimizing the unique risks and unknowns in this current crisis it is an almost certainty that the virus will recede and the economy recover. We are managing portfolios through this time by (1) prioritizing near-term needs and (2) identifying and pursuing opportunities for attractive returns we expect to come on the other side of this period.

Strong investment returns are directly tied to buying in at attractive prices and we expect purchases made in March, and potentially at lower levels ahead will be well rewarded. Clients understand this to be true and for some it means topping off the liquidity investments set aside to cover near-term needs to allow the remaining portfolio the benefit of their longer-term investment strategy.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We have continued to take on new business at a steady pace.

Times like these highlight the strengths and shortcomings of any current financial arrangement whether that be in an existing advisory relationship or for someone that has been managing on their own. The combination of strong markets and low volatility leading up to February left room for complacency that was exposed in the first quarter. The commonality among the new clients who have come to us in this time of uncertainty is an appreciation for the broader expertise and support our firm offers than was in place prior to engaging with us.

Colten Christianson
Colten Christianson

Colten Christianson

Senior financial adviser

Moss Adams

3558 Round Barn Blvd., Suite 300, Santa Rosa 95403

707-527-0800

www.mossadams.com/privateclients

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

In a normal environment, we’re meeting with our clients often and at a cadence that makes the most sense for them.

However, in the current environment, our touchpoints have (and should) become more frequent. Our role is to help clients navigate and make sound financial decisions in times of disruption. We don’t take this responsibility lightly.

At one point there was tremendous volatility and uncertainty in capital markets, unprecedented stimulus, and various levels of support being offered to investors and institutions alike. It’s in times like this—fast paced, with developments happening, and things changing on a daily basis—that the importance of coordinated advice and planning is paramount.

Our clients and prospects are requiring a high level of coordination with their advisory team (adviser, CPA, and attorney, among others) to help them evaluate all of their available options and ultimately take action in a timely manner.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

When it makes sense for the client’s risk tolerance and objectives, we work with them to be opportunistic in times of market volatility, whether that’s investing cash or rebalancing to capitalize on uncertainty baked into prices.

Rebalancing, or resetting your investment portfolio back to your desired risk level, is one of the best things you can do in times of volatility. It could help you prepare for a turnaround.

In the first quarter of 2020 as an example, we were able to trim from the fixed income sleeve in portfolios that had gone up in value and spread capital across globally diversified equities and alternatives that were at steep discounts.

This type of strategy also applies when markets appreciate, as we considered rebalancing opportunities in the second quarter when markets began to reverse course.

Naturally, in times like these, we did spend a fair amount of time talking to our clients and calming their fears to avoid transacting in ways that didn’t align to their objectives.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster and many times we sought to try keep clients from jumping off course.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

A vast majority of our pre-pandemic client meetings were in person.

While we’ll certainly look to get our people back into the offices as soon as it’s safe to do so, our client base is a resilient group. We’ve held virtual meetings for nearly six months now, which has been a relatively seamless transition. In many ways, it’s allowed us to remain even more connected with and accessible to our clients.

In terms of our business changing, we anticipate that some of our clients will prefer to continue with a more virtual form of contact even after we have resumed our normal day-to-day lives.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

I recognize this is a difficult time in our world, and it’s certainly a challenging time to be an investor.

My advice is to maintain a longer-term view as best you can. One way to do that is through a comprehensive financial plan that can serve as your go-to resource in times of uncertainty.

A good financial plan should be based on your short-, mid-, and long-term goals while anticipating and taking into account market movements (like our current environment) in the overall return estimate.

In my experience, these are instances when you learn the most about yourself as an investor and how much risk you can actually stomach.

It’s important to evaluate the level of risk you’re comfortable with in light of the risk required to achieve all of your financial goals. Become comfortable with the potential performance—both good and bad—of your portfolio under various market and economic conditions.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

Our first priority is our existing client base and being a resource for them.

That being said, opportunities have come to light as clients are demanding more out of their advisory relationships. It’s critical to have the right team in place with the right expertise and resources; you want to have a high level of confidence that you can lean on them for support during this time.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

I often hear investors ask about when to “go to cash” or when they should be “going to the sidelines.”

The problem with this crystal ball approach is that it’s extremely difficult to know when to get back into the market. The data is out there, but even if you missed 10 of the best days over the last 20 years, your investment return is significantly less as a result.

There have been and will likely continue to be years when your return is delivered in just a handful of days and you don’t want to be on the sidelines when they arrive.

Assuming you have proper planning and a dependable asset allocation plan in place, our advice is again to be long-term focused because this can ultimately enhance longer-term outcomes.

Joe Delaney (Jerry Naunheim Jr. photo)
Joe Delaney (Jerry Naunheim Jr. photo)

Joe Delaney

Managing director

Lifeguard Wealth

1010 B St., San Rafael 94901

415- 578-3160

www.LifeguardWealth.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Other than going 100% virtual via Zoom, our practice remains the same.

We still frequently meet with clients for Regular Progress Meetings on their plans and address any issues that they or we believe are important to address.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

We were very busy in late February, March and April with tax loss harvest trading and speaking to clients to make sure they were comfortable with their written investment plans.

I think a good adviser proves their worth during periods of volatility by staying proactively in touch and keeping the lines of communication open. We used a combination of email alerts, webinars and phone/Zoom calls to communicate with clients.

We were happy to see the vast majority of our clients adhered to their plans.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

It remains to be seen when we will meet a client face-to-face.

That may be a semi-permanent change. Clients have adapted well to Zoom type meetings and we have found it to be a good, although certainly not perfect, substitution for live meetings.

We have also moved to hosting webinars and periodic client events like virtual wine tastings and chef lead cooking classes that have been well received since we cannot gather face-to-face as in the past.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

All of our clients have written investment plans backed by full financial plans. We are recommending that they continue to follow their plans.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We have found this year to be a very productive year for adding new clients.

Our primary source for new clients are client referrals and that continues to be the case for 2020. Investors value sage advice in good times and challenging times.

I think they also appreciate an adviser who offers a full suite of services beyond just managing their investments.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

The main mistake we see individual investors make is not having a plan.

Once you enter a period of excessive volatility, it is so easy to be whipsawed by the market and sadly many investors make poor decisions that adversely impact their odds of long term financial success. It is the classic buy high and sell low instead of the opposite … buy low and sell high. I think the quote by the French poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery sums it up best … “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Matthew Delaney
Matthew Delaney

Matthew Delaney

Managing partner

JDH Wealth Management

181 Concourse Blvd., Suite A, Santa Rosa 95403

707-542-1110

www.jdhwealth.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

It is hard to believe that COVID-19 was not part of our vocabulary just six months ago. So much has changed in such little time and it is a reminder that our world is full of uncertainties.

This pandemic has certainly altered our meeting platform with our clients as we immediately moved to 100% virtual meetings back in March.

We had only done this for clients who were living out of the area. Now that our office has opened up again, we are giving our clients the option of continuing with virtual meetings, or in-person meetings with masks, if they feel comfortable. Most of our clients prefer to meet in person as our meetings are very interactive and they feel we have more dynamic conversations when we are in the same room.

We have seen more clients eager to update their retirement projections to make sure they aren’t going to run out of money with the recent drop in the market.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

This has been a very scary time for many of our clients as they have not only seen their businesses suffer from the economic slowdown, but also their investment account balances dropping quite rapidly.

The vast majority of our clients have weathered this pandemic quite well. They have allowed us to rebalance aggressively when the markets were at its low back in late March and they also allowed us to do extensive tax loss harvesting.

While it is painful for our clients to watch their account balances drop, being able to make lemonade out of the COVID-19 sour lemons is the only prudent way to fight back. Many of our clients recognized this as a “buy low” opportunity and gave us new monies to rebalance their accounts. This is something that we weren’t expecting given how unsettling the global news was and how panicked people were.

Getting out of the markets as many investors did back in March was a big mistake. They missed the recent upswing and now have to decide when to get back in. This is a very difficult decision to make.

Thankfully, our clients remained calm and listened to our advice of ignoring the noise and not getting out of the market.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

From a day-to-day operational standpoint, I feel that most of the COVID-19 precautionary steps that we implemented will be temporary.

For example, I don’t foresee people wearing masks indefinitely and I don’t foresee only one person being able to use our kitchen at a time. One change I hope remains permanent is for people to continue washing their hands throughout the day. This will help us continue to stay safe and healthy.

With having only five people on the JDH team, we were small enough to easily transition back to the office back in June. All of our desks and offices are spaced out far enough that we are able to naturally social distance while working. We have had several clients recently comment on how safe they feel when coming into our offices for meetings.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

Our advice has not changed at all.

The markets have always been full of uncertainty and this pandemic is no different. We tell our clients not to take more risk than they have to, be prepared for the unexpected, stay disciplined and ignore the noise. Our clients have come to expect this advice from us and we continue to tell them that with this approach, they will have a much better outcome than the masses.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We have certainly seen an increase in new clients as many people are nervous and are looking for answers.

We have been able to be that sounding board for clients to help them make solid decisions for their future and ensure that they won’t run out of money.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

The biggest mistake is to get out of the market.

Investors often have their list of reasons as to why this time is different. There is always risk in the market and there is a never ending list of things to keep us up at night. Unfortunately, we can’t control these things. When an investor decides to get out of the market, they have to decide when to get back in as well. This proves to be near impossible for most investors.

Kevin Dorwin

CEO and adviser

B|O|S (Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough)

345 California St., Suite 1100, San Francisco 94101

415-781-8535

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Communication has shifted from longer in-person meetings to more frequent and focused conversations via video conferencing and phone.

The pandemic has created waves of change in financial markets as well as with tax, estate, retirement and other financial areas; therefore, there are increased demands for more frequent and a broad array of financial advice.

We also see a major change in the use of technology by clients to interact with us, even those who typically avoid it.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

For the most part, clients have held steady to their long-term portfolio allocations as they understand that the pandemic, as difficult and lengthy as it has been, will end someday and companies will continue to earn and grow profits.

However, given the severity of the situation and the greater probability of outcomes, we have seen clients increase their cash levels to help weather the storm.

This is a good idea in our view as having sufficient cash for 6-12 months of living expenses can help investors keep their nerve during very volatile periods in the markets.

Another trend we see is a greater desire to chase the big technology names. We think it’s important to own these companies as the world is shifting to greater use of technology but you have to be careful as the market capitalizations of these companies are larger in some cases than the market capitalizations of entire countries and industries.

It’s going to be very challenging for those companies to maintain their growth at that size or to meet the expectations embedded in their stock prices.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

Yes, for sure.

We’ve seen, for instance, that working from home can and does work effectively for most of our employees.

Clients have become very comfortable using video conferencing for meetings. Technology such as docu-sign reduces the need for paper in the office dramatically. I think many small businesses will question or rethink how they view their real estate (i.e. do they need as much space going forward or should they reimagine the space they have to accommodate workers who may work at home some days and at the office on other days).

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

You can never predict the future with a high degree of reliability and you don’t have to predict the future to be successful; rather, the best prediction you can make is that the future will be very uncertain.

As such, design your investment approach to be successful in a variety of different scenarios. You may not earn the highest returns but you will have a better chance of earning very competitive returns and you’ll likely do it with less risk if you diversify in an intelligent manner.

Control the things you can control as such as costs and taxes.

Make good financial decision with thoughtful planning.

Stay the course doesn’t mean doing nothing – make important adjustments from time-to-time and consider whether your life circumstances warrant a different strategy.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We do see new clients – these are often folks who weren’t aware of the risk in their portfolios, weren’t diversified sufficiently or didn’t have a well-conceived overall plan.

Volume has been a bit slower than usual but the vast majority of people were in “hunker down mode” in the past few months and trying to make sense of what’s happening and how it impacts them, their families and their businesses. We are all starting to adapt to this strange new normal.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

The Covid situation has brought a lot new tax law changes and incentive programs so make sure you understand how these impact you.

For instance, many people over 72 aren’t aware that they can return their required IRA distribution. For those who do return their “RMD” they may be in a low tax bracket this year and might benefit from various tax planning strategies.

On the investment side, we see a hard mentality towards hot tech stocks like Zoom, Tesla, Apple, etc. We’ve always found it beneficial to take a longer-term view and that jumping into something because everyone else is can be a recipe for poor long-term results.

We also see older investors who rely on income “stretch for yield” by buying riskier types of bonds because interest rates are so low on safer bond investments. This can also be potentially harmful as well.

Rawson Gulick
Rawson Gulick

Rawson Gulick, CFP

Wealth adviser

Willow Creek Wealth Management

825 Gravenstein Highway N., Suite 5, Sebastopol 95472

707-829-1146

www.willowcreekwealth.com, rawson@willowcreekwealth.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Over the years, Willow Creek Wealth Management has been intentional about cultivating a welcoming atmosphere for our clients.

The pandemic has certainly changed the way we meet with clients, but it has not changed that intention or the outcome. We meet with many clients over video calls and have found it to be surprisingly intimate. Clients are comfortable in their homes, and while we look forward to inviting them to meet in our offices once again, this format is proving to allow for rich conversations.

And humorously, those moments that include dogs and children are less of a distraction and more of a way for us to know our clients even better.

Nothing has changed regarding our service offering. We continue to provide comprehensive planning and investment management. We still offer those in-person services that are required, such as notary services. If anything, our clients see us now more than ever as their trusted advisor.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

We took the opportunity in March to rebalance our clients' portfolios, and many clients have proactively contacted us to inquire about increasing their allocation to stocks.

The rebalancing process can be difficult to swallow for some people, but rebalancing is the embodiment of true discipline and adds real value to the portfolio management process. It is the essence of buying low and selling high.

We find that if a client had the discipline to stay the course during the financial crisis of 2008/2009, they saw the impact of long-term investing through very difficult times. Those are the clients that are more likely to stay the course when market volatility increases.

We are also seeing that clients are more and more interested in investing alongside their values. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important living sustainably is and that their investment dollars have an impact on how corporations behave. The general awareness of issues around the environment and society has definitely increased in our client conversations.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

From a business operations standpoint, we found ourselves well-positioned to pivot to the new work-from-home dynamic and continue to seamlessly serve our clients.

We have spent the past few years investing heavily in our technology infrastructure to support such a situation, and like many across Sonoma County, we, unfortunately, had recently tested our disaster recovery processes during the Kincade Fire in 2019. In terms of team collaboration, we have even further embraced virtual meetings and communications tools, such as Slack and Zoom, and we have been able to maintain a cohesive and effective team even as we are spread amongst various locations.

We have found that clients have largely embraced the new reliance on virtual meetings, and, in many cases, it has humanized everyone even further and created deeper personal bonds. While we anticipate that a time will come when we can return to the office, we certainly foresee many of these recent changes having some permanent and positive impacts.

For example, additional remote work flexibility for employees and less reliance on in-person meetings with clients, both of which we believe will be positive changes in terms of work-life balance, broader geographic reach for new client relationships, and a wider talent pool from which to attract future team members.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

Our advice is to follow a disciplined plan and look beyond today’s concerns to the long-term growth potential of markets.

So yes, stay the course. Client responses have ranged from "yes, of course," to "but isn’t this time different?"

Many of our clients have been with Willow Creek through more than one financial rollercoaster and have seen the benefits of sticking to the plan. For those who are experiencing this as an investor for the first time, we remind them that the constant is that market volatility will never feel good and will always be scary for different reasons. Investors who act on their emotions of fear (and greed) are those who tend to make mistakes.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

This is a time when people have been forced to slow down, for better or worse.

What has resulted, in our observation, is that many are taking a step back and being more intentional about how they want their lives to look as we work toward a new normal. New clients are looking for someone to partner with to help them structure the financial aspects of their life to support that new vision. We are seeing healthy new client activity and believe that it would be even stronger if the economic uncertainty did not also include social distancing and health risks.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

By far, the biggest mistakes we see are making investment decisions from a position of fear and anxiety and short-term thinking. Investors often seek safety in volatile markets and move to cash, which instead just locks in losses.

The false sense of safety of holding cash can lead to unintended consequences, including missing out on a significant rise in the market or a decline in purchasing power, which will make it all the more difficult to reach your goals.

Another mistake we see is chasing returns.

When the financial news media flashes high flying stocks at us, it can be difficult to resist jumping on the bandwagon.

But today's winners are usually tomorrow's losers. When we see a handful of large company stocks soaring, it may be hard to remember the past.

For example, U.S. Large Cap was the best performing segment of the global market over the last ten years. However, the ten years prior to that it was the worst performing, known as "the lost decade." The future is unknowable. Holding a portfolio that is broadly diversified has the best opportunity to grow over the long-term.

Gretchen Hollstein
Gretchen Hollstein

Gretchen Hollstein, CFP

Senior adviser and principal

Litman Gregory Asset Management

100 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 204, Larkspur 94939

925-254-8999

www.lgam.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Experiencing this pandemic along with my clients hasn’t necessarily changed my relationships with them. It’s more reinforced the benefit of having already created strong, engaged relationships.

This set the stage for me to be able to have candid conversations with clients about what they are really experiencing today – whether it be about family, health, work, or anxiety about the future. Knowing what really matters to each client allows me to help them make effective personalized decisions about their finances and investments.

And, whether it’s a stated demand or not, the service our clients seem to need from us more than ever is the ability to synthesize the onslaught of economic and market news, determine what impact it has on them, and help them decide how they should navigate these turbulent times. The level of uncertainty may be higher now than at any time in my 25-plus-year career, but we can still help clients focus on what we DO know, and what we CAN control together to make smart, impactful decisions.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

We provide a breadth of portfolio styles and risk profiles, but many of our clients have what we would consider a “balanced” portfolio.

Having this combination of stocks, bonds, and alternatives helped my clients weather the volatility in February and March, even while witnessing the stock market go through its sharpest and fastest decline in history.

During the volatility we also took the opportunity to trim asset classes that were up, like bonds and alternative strategies, and use the proceeds to add to stocks during market lows in March. This shift ended up leading to some nice rebounds in client portfolios during the second quarter. And, market declines also gave us opportunities to harvest tax losses in some holdings, which our clients can use to offset future taxable gains.

Activity in our client portfolios did increase during the first and second quarter this year, but that's not unusual during times of market volatility when we seek to take advantage of investment and tax-optimization opportunities.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to be permanent, or if not, why not?

We were fortunate that Litman Gregory’s management team implemented sophisticated and flexible technology resources, so our business was well-prepared for remote work.

Keeping our employees and clients safe is our top priority, and yet we didn’t miss a beat in service when we had to close our offices.

We don’t expect this arrangement to be permanent, but we have learned that working as a team from many different locations is absolutely possible. This may lead to expanded views when hiring, dealing with power shut-offs in fire season, and supporting employees in different locations.

And, although it's no comparison to seeing clients in person, we’ve also learned that video meetings can be a convenient and effective alternative. In some cases, this meeting style has even allowed us to get to know our clients better; I have met more pets and family members over Zoom recently, and I know my clients have learned more about my family and home as well.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course, how’s that advice received by clients.

Yogi Berra’s famous quote says it all: “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Living through a global pandemic, with unprecedented impact and uncertainty, doesn’t change the fact that trying to predict what will happen and how the markets will react is still a gamble.

My advice to clients is that we need to look at a range of plausible scenarios, rather than betting on just one outcome, in order to make prudent wealth management decisions. In that process, we need to have a solid and objective plan for their investments—one that takes into account both their short-term cash flow needs as well as their long-term goals.

This should include creating an appropriate emergency fund, setting aside cash for near-term expenses, and if needed a “staged” plan for investing new money during volatile and uncertain times.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We have seen a steady flow of referrals over recent months and welcome the chance to talk with people about how we may be a fit for their needs. In our experience, volatility and uncertainty create new questions and anxieties. During times like this, we are often approached by people who either feel underwhelmed with the service from their current advisor or overwhelmed by managing their finances and investments on their own.

We believe that the value brought by an objective and engaged partner in the wealth management process can lead to more confidence and financial success.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

In times of financial crisis or uncertainty I see people sometimes underestimate the potential rate of change.

There are often unexpected variables that impact the course of a trend and can create surprises on the upside (or downside). For example, in 2008 the Federal Reserve took unprecedented steps in order to help avoid a depression, and again this year the government has taken significant steps to bolster the economy during the severe impact of the pandemic.

In a difficult environment, it’s important to remember there are multiple plausible outcomes looking ahead, and to not become so anchored by current conditions that you believe they will continue into the future. Remember, the only constant is change.

Tom Hubert
Tom Hubert

Tom Hubert

Senior vice president of auto, insurance and wealth services

Redwood Credit Union

3033 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa 95403

800-895-7610

redwoodcu.org/investments

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how has it changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Honestly, the relationship and demands have not changed due to the pandemic.

We strive in both good times and bad to understand the individual’s needs and goals. The biggest change in the current environment has been the methods we use to communicate with our members. The shelter-in-place orders have created an environment that limits face to face interactions, but we’ve been able to maintain service by doing more consultations over the phone and with video chat.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

Most of our members are remaining steady in these uncertain economic times.

For us, this is a result of the time we spend with them up front—when we first establish the relationship—to determine the appropriate amount of risk they’re willing to take. With a focus on education, our advisers take the time to help our clients re-evaluate their portfolios based on changes to their goals, and then recommend appropriate adjustments only if necessary.

Are there permanent changes you see in your business as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

Change is a constant, and the industry is continually evolving.

For us, we’ve accelerated our focus on digital solutions significantly due the pandemic. This includes increased use of video meetings and electronic documents, as well as other digital opportunities. The use of technology, improved methods of communication, and the remote delivery of services are necessary today but I believe they will continue on into the future because of the convenience they provide.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s “stay the course” how is that advice received by clients?

Set goals, plan, and find an advisor you connect with at an organization you trust.

Our advice is to remain focused on the long-term and to avoid making emotional decisions. There are times when portfolio adjustments make sense and times when staying the course is the right decision.

In the instances where doing nothing is the right thing, it is generally met with positively because of the time taken to talk it through, ensuring understanding of the recommendation.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty, or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

RCU Wealth Management continues to serve additional individuals and businesses but new member-clients slowed slightly upon the onset, mostly due to the shelter-in-place orders. We’ve made significant efforts to remotely provide insight and education through the economic uncertainty. As we’ve become more used to the current distancing requirements, business has begun to normalize.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Many people don’t take an active role in their finances – but that’s really one of the most important steps you can take to affect your ability to build wealth to meet your financial goals.

Financial education is extremely important when it comes to wealth management, investments, and financial planning in general. This is true in all economic environments—whether you’re just beginning to save, entering retirement soon, or already there. Many financial topics can be complex, so we want to get as much information out to the community and to our membership as possible – and we encourage people to ask questions and seek guidance from us.

Craig Keller
Craig Keller

Craig Keller, CFA

Director of endowments and foundations group, senior adviser and principal

Litman Gregory Asset Management

100 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 204, Larkspur 94939

925-254-8999

www.lgam.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Client relationships, for the better, have become more collaborative and hands on, characterized by more frequent interaction, greater transparency of the underlying investments, and the unveiling of clients' vulnerabilities.

Clients have demanded more touches in an effort to better understand the implications of potential scenarios not considered before. This, in turn, has increased the need for more detailed and thoughtful financial analysis and planning, and deeper portfolio attribution.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

Not surprisingly given the conditions, in the eye of the storm in February and March there was a natural client reaction to want to hide from volatility and get more defensive, albeit after the fact.

While most clients held steady, there was a general desire from clients to have greater liquidity on hand to ensure that in the event of an extended decline for markets that they could continue to adhere to sound, long-term investment principles.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

While nothing can replace face-to-face interaction to reinforce client-advisor trust, the pandemic has successfully tested video conferencing as a new form of communication, providing us with an efficient and reasonably personal way to interact with clients more frequently. I expect this will be at least semi-permanent.

As to the economic disruption, near-zero interest rates have exacerbated the challenge to both generate reasonable inflation-adjusted returns without taking on excessive risk and to manage the downside risk of portfolios through core bonds. We will spend considerable time and resources on finding creative ways to generate returns and manage risk in this new paradigm.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course, how’s that advice received by clients.

Our approach has always been to ensure that a client's financial situation is bulletproof, which goes beyond the building blocks of portfolio management.

The forward-looking message to clients is that markets and investing are inherently uncertain and that now the range of outcomes and probabilities of these outcomes is as uncertain as ever. Financial crises provide real-time assessments of a client's ability to take on risk. This latest crisis has allowed us to recalibrate every client's risk tolerance and, more importantly, their need to take on risk.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

No adviser has a crystal ball and could have anticipated and planned for the current pandemic and global shutdown so we're not seeing a mass influx of new clients who are leaving their current adviser.

Although we are welcoming new clients, the very quick decline/rebound may offer some investors false confidence that this was just a hiccup and we'll be back to normal in no time.

But there's a subset of investors that have worked hard to build their nest egg and realize that investing is not easy and that the potential impact of "getting it wrong" can have severe long-term negative consequences on their financial future. It's these investors that recognize the value of a collaborative advisory relationship.

And the closer we can be to the epicenter of their financial lives, the better we can advise them.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

It's no secret that index-based equity investing with a bias towards U.S. markets has been an easy (and smart) choice for the past decade. However, with five companies now comprising roughly 23% of the S&P 500, there are potential limits to how far these companies can carry the U.S. equity index.

But it's an easy decision reinforced by a look in the rearview mirror. Yet all markets are cyclical, and some investors may be missing a great opportunity to take advantage of more-attractive valuations outside these growth mega-cap companies as well as the opportunities available in overseas equity markets.

Peter Laidlaw
Peter Laidlaw

Peter Laidlaw

Client adviser

J.P. Morgan Private Bank

560 Mission St., San Francisco 94104

peter.c.laidlaw@jpmorgan.com; privatebank.jpmorgan.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

These turbulent times have allowed us to do what we do best – act as a steadying presence for our clients in times of uncertainty and ensure that our clients are properly informed and equipped with the best thought leadership – from both J.P. Morgan and external experts.

Clients have understandably been more hands on and in need of consistent updates on the markets and their portfolios, so we’ve done our best to provide additional context and content and to be accessible any time.

Interestingly, despite not being able to see our clients in person, COVID-19 also has increased and strengthened interactions with clients in some unexpected ways.

By embracing video conferencing, we’ve been able to connect with our clients in their homes on a weekly basis, so it’s become normal to see dogs jumping around at their feet or their kids climbing on their laps during meetings. For many of our clients, with whom we spent time in their offices, in the J.P. Morgan Client Center or at restaurants, this has created a new level of connectivity.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

We have certainly increased activity in discussing portfolios and positioning.

Regardless of where we are in the market cycle, we are active portfolio managers and make strategic and tactical shifts that reflect our market outlook. While many clients have moved to de-risk their portfolios by trimming from equity, we’ve also seen great opportunities in high yield credit, preferred equities, and private assets like senior loans, venture capital, opportunistic real estate and leveraged buyouts.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

One of the biggest changes over the past few months, and a very positive one, has been the rapid deployment of new technology to facilitate remote work and client interaction.

Prior to COVID-19, we were a heavily on premise and in-person business. The new technology now enables us to better respond to client needs from anywhere, and allows us to meet new client preferences for remote meetings and interactions. That said, both myself and my colleagues are happy that we will continue to have physical offices to facilitate team comradery and best practice sharing.

This is particularly important given the JP Morgan coverage model, where we truly believe that clients are clients of JP Morgan as a whole, and not just of the individual adviser.

Finally, another added benefit of the remote interaction model I mentioned above is that we have been able to host so many more interviews and events like panel discussions with industry experts like Berry Sternlicht, Ray Dalio, Hank Paulson and Condoleezza Rice, and the reach of these events is greater than when we hosted them all in person. The goal is to continue to have a mix of in-person and virtual events going forward.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

Our investment advice is individually tailored to each of our clients; for some who can stomach significant swings in portfolio values, the best decision is to proceed as usual; for others, we’ve moved to de-risk their portfolios.

We encourage our clients to think through the intent of their wealth – what they spend on an annual basis, what they want to leave behind at the end of their lives, and what (if any) legacy they want to support. For clients who rely on their investment portfolio to support their spending, we’ve been looking to new sources of income because yields on money market funds are historically low. We expect markets to remain volatile this year with the continued presence of COVID-19 and the upcoming elections.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We have had great opportunities to build our business in the North Bay.

New clients have found that our combination of investment management, retail banking, simple and complex lending, and trust and estate advice and planning is compelling given widespread market and investment uncertainty. Investing is never easy, but the recently-ended bull market was one of the longest and steepest equity rallies in history, and in that environment, many individuals felt more comfortable handling financial decisions on their own.

In times of turmoil, our clients and prospective clients are more likely to rely on the stability of a relationship with J.P. Morgan, and the expertise of their financial advisor team. The pull back in asset prices also has created great opportunities for generational wealth planning, and this is a key area for clients to engage with our team.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

One common mistake we see individual investors making in this environment in particular is thinking that they can time the market.

More generally, other common mistakes we see are individuals chasing after the hottest individual equities, and not focusing on post-fee, post-tax returns. We frequently interact with prospects and clients who have made one (or all) of these mistakes, and they usually decide to work with J.P. Morgan to help them with a more cohesive and comprehensive approach to their investments and wealth planning strategy.

Barry Mendelson
Barry Mendelson

Barry Mendelson, CFP

Wealth adviser and managing partner

ZRC Wealth Management LLC

Walnut Creek, Santa Rosa and St. Helena

925-962-5600, 707-524-6131

www.zrcwm.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it is changed the demands clients are making of your services?

As a firm, we’ve long embraced technology and leveraged it to serve our clients – many of which live outside of California and even overseas.

For example, we have been using Zoom and other video-conferencing technologies for more than five years now. When we were all required to shelter-in-place, we already had the technology in place to remain connected with clients. We have been nearly paperless for a few years now.

Earlier this year, we finished rolling out our new digital wealth platform and are now 100% paperless, so we have been able to continue to expertly serve clients from our home offices. That said, we are concerned about clients feeling isolated and their mental well-being, so we do check on them in-person from time to time.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

The level of uncertainty with the spread of the virus, civic unrest, and the volatility in the financial markets put everyone on edge in the first quarter.

As markets rebounded in the second quarter, investors began to understand, like much of investing, it was going to be marathon and not a sprint. For those reasons, patience and discipline remain the key tenets of a solid investment strategy.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

COVID-19 has accelerated the need for real-time financial advice. Investors do not want to have to come into an advisor’s office to know how they are doing financially.

Americans have always been a very mobile society. Going forward, a smaller portion of our services will be delivered at our offices. The rest will be done digitally (including video), by going to the client, or by meeting outside the office. There is going to be less of a need for formal and costly office space.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

You will sleep a lot better at night if you have well-defined financial goals and invest with purpose.

We will eventually get through this . . . we always do. Just be sure to take good care of yourself (mentally and physically). Without good health, purpose, and love in your life, money does not mean a thing.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

ZRC continues to receive a steady stream of interest in our services.

As people have been cooped up at home, or facing life changes (changes in their employment, changes in their home life, changes in their priorities) they seek others, especially professionals, to help them navigate this uncertainty in their lives. That is where ZRC really shines, helping people make sense of difficult and often complex financial and life decisions.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

We are concerned about the amount of hot or speculative money in the market right now. That is, people throwing money at unprofitable and speculative stocks such as the flood of “blank check” or SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies) that have gone public this year. While the market recovery has been a relief, “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.” – Warren Buffet.

Emily Menjou, vice president and personal trust fiduciary manager at Exchange Bank in Santa Rosa (courtesy photo)
Emily Menjou, vice president and personal trust fiduciary manager at Exchange Bank in Santa Rosa (courtesy photo)

Emily Menjou

Vice president and personal trust fiduciary manager

Exchange Bank Trust & Investment Management

545 Fourth St., Santa Rosa 95401

707-524-3151

www.exchangebank.com/trust-investment

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Aside from the fact that most meetings are held via phone or zoom, our relationships with clients have remained consistent.

Some clients have asked for additional liquidity or increased distributions to compensate for financial hardships caused by the pandemic, and we are always happy to make these changes. In light of all of this uncertainty, we are reaching out even more frequently, just to let clients know we’re here to help. One thing is for certain – there’s such a personal element to our trust and investment business that we’ve really missed meeting with our clients face-to-face!

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

As the pandemic unfolded in the first and second quarters, clients and advisers alike were unsettled by the resulting market volatility.

Yet we’ve found that when our clients share our investment philosophy and view investing as a long-term endeavor, they are not typically swayed by short-term trends or speculative fads in the investment world. Most of our clients have elected to hold steady on their paths.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

Life as we know it has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has resulted in significant changes to the way we operate our business.

The first few weeks were tricky as we were all adjusting to new norms, but at this point it is business as usual for us in Exchange Bank’s Trust & Investment Management.

Luckily, we began adjusting to remote work habits throughout 2019 due to our acquisition of two satellite offices in Roseville and Los Altos.

Now, we are staggering our office schedules for social distancing and each member of our team (28 and counting) has the capability to work securely from home. Although we intend to return fully to the office when it is safe to do so, we will maintain our remote access technology for disaster recovery purposes in the future.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

Timing the market and reacting emotionally to market changes are acts which run counter to our investment philosophy.

We counsel clients to make financial decisions based on their long term goals and financial needs, not based on fear or emotion due to short term market volatility. If emotion and fear are the driving factors, we counsel clients to stay the course. Although each major economic shift has the appearance of being permanent, we remind the clients that “this too, shall pass” and to keep their focus on long-term. Our advice is usually well received after a healthy discussion and reminder of the plan.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

In addition to serving as investment manager, we also serve as trustee for ongoing trust administration and estate settlement, which is where we are seeing the largest influx of new relationships.

People have extra time at home, and when paired with the reminder of life’s fragility brought on by this pandemic, we are noticing that lots of people are revising their estate plans and appointing Exchange Bank as successor trustee.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Despite all the research suggesting that the financial markets are truly efficient, we still encounter clients who wish to time the market or make investment changes in response to our turbulent political and economic climate.

One of the biggest mistakes an investor can make is to react in fear to a market decline by pulling out of the market. Clients who do this are not only locking in their losses, but they are often also stuck on the sidelines when the market begins to rebound.

We counsel our clients against being reactive, in favor of a more disciplined investment approach centered on our core principles of diversification, asset allocation, and low costs. Having a plan and sticking with it is key for financial success.

Monica Muñoz
Monica Muñoz

Monica Muñoz, CFP

Senior adviser and manager of wealth planning services

Litman Gregory Asset Management

100 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 204, Larkspur 94939

925-254-8999

www.lgam.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity to connect more deeply with clients both professionally as their adviser but also personally in this shared experience we are all having as individuals, families, and businesses.

With the shelter at home orders, leaning on our existing and some newly expanded technology (like video conferencing) has allowed us to continue to meet the needs of our clients and remain connected during this unprecedented period.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

During the first two quarters of 2020, the primary activity across our client portfolios was related to strategic portfolio allocation changes (determined by our in-house research team), as well as rebalancing and tax loss harvesting as a result of the market volatility.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to be permanent, or if not, why not?

Having moved our entire firm to 100% remote work in March, it has highlighted the need for less physical office space and allows us to rethink how we best use office and/or meeting space in the future.

Prior to COVID-19 we had adopted technology to help support our clients and our interactions with them. But, in the current environment we have leveraged technology even more, utilizing more electronic communication where appropriate and relying less on hard copy mailings which is something that is likely to remain more permanent.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course, how’s that advice received by clients.

Given the level of uncertainty that comes with investing, and particularly in the current environment, focusing clients on their long-term goals and revisiting their financial planning projections has helped to reinforce the importance of staying committed to their investment strategy.

To help our clients "stay the course" we are talking with them about ways that they can take action in this environment, such as confirming an appropriate "emergency" fund, revisiting their financial plan and/or cash flow planning, harvesting taxable losses, and taking advantage of new tax laws under the SECURE and CARES Acts.

We are also encouraging our clients to take breaks, when possible, from the 24/7 news cycle which can cause additional stress and anxiety.

Gregory S. Onken
Gregory S. Onken

Greg Onken

Managing director OS Group

JP Morgan Securities

560 Mission St., Suite 2400, San Francisco 94105

greg.onken@jpmorgan.com; jpmorgansecurities.com/os-group

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

We went into the shut-down with cautious optimism based on a combination of strong fundamentals, geopolitical uncertainty and unfolding events. Nevertheless, we were positioned for a potential 10-15% plus equity correction.

As the coronavirus pandemic became more evident, we shifted our equity exposure from cyclical exposure to the economy to a concentration to what we label “secular growth” and ”dividend growth” in anticipation of an acceleration of trends already in place (think technology adaptation boosting productivity) and a recovery that arrives in waves and is characterized by “fits and starts.”

Simultaneously, we assessed each and every client’s portfolio for liquidity – making sure that each had cash, cash equivalents, cash flow or access to the proper credit facilities to meet liabilities and weather any storm (similar to what any corporation run by competent management would do in the same situation). In response, our clients have become more engaged and trust us even more.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

Once we advised the appropriate tactical changes in February through April, activity normalized quickly and the investments were left to deliver the results.

While investors can often make decisions abruptly in response to a specific event or based on emotions, we take a cognitive approach as advisors, applying our investing knowledge to make the best decisions depending on the situation. We did not sell everything.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

It’s our opinion that the pandemic acted as an accelerant to trends that were already in place.

These are powerful trends that span demographics, institutions, consumption patterns and social structure. We could be in for a long transition period that will permanently affect all of these areas and more. Opportunities and risks will change but both will always be present.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

Ignore predictions and seek perspective. As human beings we have a tendency toward recency bias – to emphasize what is most current. It seems like a lifetime ago that we were trying to see through an inverted yield curve, US-China trade tension, a post—Brexit Europe, Presidential impeachment proceedings, a potential war with Iran, primary elections and an all-time high for the major US equity indices. All of those events occurred during the first quarter of this year and seemed more important at the time. Now, other things seem most important. Don’t let others with a messaging agenda distract you from your goals. Once again, opportunities and risks will change but both will always be present.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We have had an increase in client referrals since the shut-down began as our existing clients shared our responses and actions with their friends and family.

I think that our proactive re-positioning into secular growth and cash-flow prioritization was appreciated, especially when compared to the “stay the course” messaging that most people heard from their advisors.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Reacting emotionally is always the toughest aspect of investing to overcome.

Combine that with a miscalculation of risks and well…that’s why it’s our responsibility as advisors to help our clients make the most of their money and their lives.

Bruce Raabe
Bruce Raabe

Bruce Raabe

CEO

Relevant Wealth Advisors

2 Belvedere Place, Suite 350, Mill Valley 94941

415-925-4000; www.RelevantWealth.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

If there is anything good coming out of this pandemic, it’s that we are spending a great deal more time talking and Zooming with our clients. This allows us to listen and take action to ensure our clients are prepared no matter what happens in the coming months. We are all on edge as this pandemic unfolds. Fortunately, there is a large gap between investment performance and the state of our economy. We know this can change very quickly as it did in March and likely will.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

During the first quarter, the equity and fixed income markets became unhinged - creating a tremendous amount of investment volatility.

The massive government stimulus has done a great job of stabilizing our economy and restoring investor confidence. We all know that has to end, and so we are preparing our clients and their portfolios for that eventually. 2019 was an incredible year for our clients.

Recently we have made tactical changes to reduce overall risk by reducing some equity exposure and by focusing other investments on low volatility strategies. Now is not the time to be greedy. We want to see what the world looks like 3-6 months from now and then re-evaluate our long-term strategies.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

With everything on hold, it’s hard to know what is permanent.

We have realized that we can work remotely quite efficiently and see real value in using video meetings to augment in person meetings. We see these changes as likely permanent and a net benefit to our team and clients.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stayed the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

Staying the course has been the mantra of the investment community for decades.

It serves the industry well – but not always the clients. We utilize a risk assessment tool to measure each client’s personal risk profile.

We then align their own strategy to fit that profile. Our ultimate goal is to help our clients live happy and productive lives and to leverage their wealth to do just that. Taking on more risk than they are comfortable with does not achieve that goal. In life we often get off course and need to re-evaluate and course correct. Investing is no different. What worked twenty or thirty years ago, may not work today.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We are seeing increasing interest in prospects looking for professional advice now that protecting and growing wealth will be more challenging. We’re excited about the value we can deliver new clients and therefore see this period as a great opportunity to serve our community.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Wealth management is “optional” making it easy to ignore or delay. I believe there is a tremendous benefit to being pro-active with both our investment strategies and advanced planning. This is especially true now with so many changes taking place at every level of our society. As we like to say at Relevant Wealth “prepare, or repair.”

Chuck Root
Chuck Root

Chuck Root

Managing director

Double Eagle Financial

P.O. Box 2790, Santa Rosa 95405

707-576-1313

www.double-eaglefinancial.com

How has the Covid-19 changed your relationships with clients? Changed client demands?

Actually, with Zoom and the phone, it hasn’t changed relationships much.

We have always had a very personal relationship with clients and they call us with almost all concerns or where they need help or new details.

Demands are about same, if they need something we are the first person they call.

Tell us how your client portfolios have changed.

We take full discretion of most all client portfolios, so there was very little change.

We have a plan to be out of the market when there is a serious correction as there was from mid-February to the middle of March. Once the market corrected, we were back in with lots of cash. Clients were very pleased at the results. Our clients rely on us for the tactical movement of their portfolios, we agree on a strategy and then take care of the implementation.

Are there permanent changes you see in business as a result of the disruption? Are they likely to be permanent?

As we are close to our clients and have made changes in technology, we don’t see many changes. Quite a few of the technology changes will continue, since this may go on a while.

What is your advice on the future to your clients? Is it stay the course, if so, how is it received?

There hasn’t been much changed in our attitude and how we see the future.

We see most events being volatile until 2021, but after that pretty stable. Wish I had a crystal ball.

What mistakes do you see individuals making in the current financial climate?

The biggest mistake anytime is that people think they can do it all themselves.

It would take a person 100 years to learn all the background and expertise to answer that question. One adviser can’t do it alone either, this is a team event with their CPA and Attorney. We manage the financial team to best take care of the client’s needs in an efficient and caring process. We interface with information and documents to ensure that the process is fully complete.

Individual investors do not understand a volatile market, such as we have had this year. Everything works in an uptrend market but when things go south, they get terrified. This is normal if you don’t have a focused plan.

Aaron Stern
Aaron Stern

Aaron Stern

Partner, lead trader and portfolio manager

Main Street Research

30 Liberty Ship Way, Sausalito 94920

415-289-1010

msr@ms-research.com; www.ms-research.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

We feel that this unfortunate situation has strengthened our relationship with our clients.

During the massive stock market decline in March, our clients were once again reminded of the value of our risk management tools in mitigating catastrophic decline – just as they did in the last bear market of 2008.

While indexes fell as much as 37% in March our average client fell less than 12%. The result of mitigating downside in the short term is the ability to enhance wealth significantly in the longer term. Many more clients are taking advantage of the holistic wealth planning that we offer to them as part of our relationship, so that they can better understand the effects on their retirement plan of a bad stock market, lower than historical stock market returns, lost income and many other risks associated with this global pandemic.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

Because our investment strategy is predicated on risk management, our use of stop loss orders and sector management mitigated the majority of the decline that occurred in the first quarter.

This caused a huge surge in trading activity and a continual rotation out of specific cyclical sectors and into more defensive ones, while also reducing overall equity exposure. More recently, there has been a reinvigoration in the more cyclical sectors, while technology stocks for the most part have been working all along.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to be permanent, or if not, why not?

Clients are much more amenable to remote videoconference meetings.

We are fortunate that we adopted this technology a few years ago, and while previously maybe 25-30% of our clients were willing to meet remotely, now, by necessity, all clients have had to get together “virtually.” While some can’t wait to come back to our beautiful offices, others have been so impressed with the efficacy of the videoconferences they will continue to use the technology going forward. They certainly prefer it to sitting in traffic and also understand that it affords us more time at our desk working on their portfolio!

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course - how’s that advice received by clients.

Our advice to our clients is to continue to invest in stocks and industries that are working and avoid those that are not.

Invest in high quality stocks that meet specific fundamental criteria and have barriers to entry. And use stop losses, in case the economy is forced to shut down again, or another unknown event derails the current rally. Our clients are comfortable knowing that they are participating in this unprecedented market recovery while we are also prepared to reduce exposure yet again should the unpredictable occur.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

This has been a very good period of growth of our firm.

As a long established and well-known risk manager, our strategy truly resonates with investors during periods of market volatility. Bear markets and the recessions that usually coincide with them are far more difficult to “manage” than when everything is working, causing many frustrated investors to seek professional advice.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Most investors fail to use any risk management tools, such as flexibility in sector allocation or stop losses, on their portfolio. Failure to use these tools can result in catastrophic loss to their portfolio, which can lead to “ugly math” – if their portfolio goes down 50%, it needs to go up 100% just to get back to even. This can take years to accomplish and can ruin financial plans. Even in a good market these tools are important to mitigate the outlier bad performers, like GE in 2017, or underperforming sectors, such as energy stocks since 2014.

Montgomery Taylor
Montgomery Taylor

Montgomery Taylor, CPA, CFP

CEO

Montgomery Taylor Wealth Management

2880 Cleveland Ave., Suite 2, Santa Rosa 95403

707-576-8700

www.MontgomeryTaylorWealth.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

We have been disappointed that we cannot visit with each other in person.

However, we’ve learned how to utilize video conferencing technology and this may actually increase the frequency of our financial strategy review meetings. Clients have not changed their service requests; they remain confident in their financial strategy.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

Most all of our clients did not panic during the February/March bear market and have fared very well. There were two clients who were fearful and wanted to move to cash; they now realize their error.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

Our investment processes do not change. It is the proven process which eliminates emotional decisions and provides a known structure for long-term investing. The main change to our business, and perhaps permanently so, may be the increased use of video conferencing.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

We’re telling our clients now, the same thing we’ve always told them. Our investment strategy is carefully built around a strong belief in risk management. We manage risk by tactically adjusting our asset allocations to account for the ups and downs of the economy.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

It is true that some people freeze up in times of uncertainty and do nothing. For the most part, our experience tells us that savvy people with wealth, see times like this as an opportunity to make money, not a time to freeze up or hide. We have been taking on new clients with this mindset.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

The thing we’ve noticed is that some investors are wanting to change their diversified portfolio to include more bonds or to start investing in gold. These are allocation changes based upon fear or greed, and not on a long-term proven financial strategy. It is best to determine what your life goals are first, and then build a financial strategy which is likely to get you there.

Bill Thompson
Bill Thompson

Bill Thompson

Director of endowments and foundations group, senior adviser

Litman Gregory Asset Management

100 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 204. Larkspur 94939

925-254-8999

www.lgam.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

Clients are more dependent on us than ever. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on all of our clients and they are doing their best to navigate those challenges on a daily basis.

Our role is to ensure that our client's portfolios remain invested in line with their risk and return profile, so they can focus on their day to day operations, challenges, etc. While there are more questions than answers today, we are helping ensure that our client's investments are not the source of anxiety and the portfolio remains invested in line with the stated near and long-term objectives.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

For our institutional clients, there was very little change in portfolios, as clients held steady on their path. On the margin, clients expressed interest in increasing liquidity, in the form of increased cash and bonds, to meet spending/operating needs a quarter or two beyond normal practice.

However, clients remained committed to their long-term strategic allocations. Tactically, we recommended that clients increase U.S. equity allocations to opportunistically take advantage of lower valuations, as our clients were underweight entering the global pandemic. These increases were sourced from fixed-income and alternative investments, which held their value during the Q1 2020 selloff.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

It is difficult to predict what changes will become permanent.

Client meetings have changed, as we are currently conducting Board and Investment Committee meetings via virtual teleconference, rather than in-person. While we don't anticipate all meetings remaining virtual, it is possible that some clients may choose to use a mix of virtual and in-person meetings going forward, in an effort to accommodate Board and Committee members' schedules.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course, how’s that advice received by clients.

The first question we asked our institutional clients is how the current global pandemic has impacted their institution (e.g., budget, fundraising, etc.) and whether their current circumstances have changed the risk and return profile of the institution and thus their portfolio.

In most cases, our client's risk/return profile has not changed, as their near- and long-term investment objectives remain consistent. We construct globally diversified portfolios that are intended to successfully navigate a wide range of market conditions. As such, our client's portfolios largely performed in line with expectations, despite the record selloff and subsequent rebound. We invest in defensive assets that protect portfolios during market selloffs and growth-oriented assets that benefit when the market rallies.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We have seen some new business activity related to our institutional business. In general, investment advisor transitions for institutions has been somewhat limited, given Board and Investment Committee hesitation to engage a search process that will be entirely virtual.

The opportunities that have presented themselves have been circumstantial and are unlikely to point to a broader trend. We expect new opportunities to continue to present themselves with increased frequency over the next few quarters.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

The most common mistake is to let near-term risks impact long-term investment decisions.

For example, investors often sell equity positions during a broad selloff and increased volatility, as their near-term risk tolerance decreases, thus risking the permanent loss of capital. There may be good reasons to increase cash for near- to intermediate-term needs but letting emotions and near-term concerns drive investment decisions generally leads to poor decisions. Our role as fiduciary partners is to serve as the objective voice at the table, ensuring the institution balances both near- and long-term risks with opportunities.

Steven Townsend
Steven Townsend

Steven Townsend, CFP

Financial consultant

Charles Schwab

200 Fourth St., Suite 100, Santa Rosa 95401

707-569-7819

www.schwab.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

During this time, I find that conversations with clients are less rushed and more personal.

The environment, as uncertain as it is, has provided an opportunity to dive deeper and learn even more about my clients and their goals, so that’s a silver lining. However, as time goes on, I’ve also heard a longing for a return to in-person conversation from many, in particular, my senior clients who want to protect themselves financially during this uncertain time.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

Generally speaking, adjustments made in the first half of the year were modest and reasonable, given each client’s resources and long-term objectives.

Others were enrolled in services that automatically rebalanced during the drawdown, adding to risk assets along the way. While this was uncomfortable in the moment, it is turning out to be prudent. For a smaller group of clients, the inclusion of “alternative assets” that have little or no relationship to the volatility of the stock market provided relief. Very few clients made drastic changes to their portfolios.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

The movement towards virtual engagement, particularly for meetings not prompted by major life changes, is likely to be a permanent change for many clients as they continue to get comfortable with digital channels.

But for financial conversations after major life events—such as when a when a spouse becomes seriously ill or when an inheritance arrives, I expect some clients will still prefer to have those interactions in person.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

The advice I’m providing about the future is to remain focused on practiced and proven investing principles.

Understand how much risk you are taking and why you’re taking it, and plan for modest returns for the foreseeable future, just in case. Be aware of your all-in expenses for the management of your portfolio and look for ways to trim the fat.

And if you find it difficult to add to risk assets during times of weakness, or to trim while the sun is shining, consider ways to add rigor to the management of your portfolio. Lastly, never let panic be your strategy.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

The pace of new client introductions has remained strong through the pandemic.

In recent months, I’ve been hearing from prospective clients who are looking for guidance following the sale of a business or property, or because of a loss of a spouse, not specifically because of economic uncertainty, although that always enters the conversation.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Generally speaking, some investors may have missed opportunities to harvest losses for tax purposes, to convert Traditional IRA assets to Roth IRAs, and to add risk assets during the selloff.

Given there is still much uncertainty for individual investors, I recommend they take the opportunity to reflect on the first half of the year and review their financial plan to feel more prepared and confident they will reach their goals.

Chris Wheaton
Chris Wheaton

Chris Wheaton, CPA, CFP

Senior adviser and principal

Litman Gregory Asset Management

100 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 204, Larkspur 94939

925-254-8999

www.lgam.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how it’s changed the demands clients are making of your services?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted our service delivery from a combination of teleconferences and face-to-face meetings to a combination of teleconferences and interactive Zoom meetings.

The pandemic has meant that we are having more frequent check-ins with clients. With the market downturn, there is a greater demand for long-term cash flow projections to make sure that each client's long-term financial independence planning is on track.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

The general trends in our client portfolios in the first and second quarter included more frequent rebalancing due to market volatility, tax loss harvesting, and the reduction of our underweight to U.S. stocks in April.

Most of our clients had an increase in activity due to our rebalancing and tax loss harvesting. However, most clients did not change their long-term asset allocation. That is if their equity/fixed income target was 60% to stock and 40% to bonds, most clients did not panic and reduce their stock target exposure.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

We expect a return to in-person client meetings and on-site office work with our colleagues in the future. At the same time, the experience during this pandemic has shown we can be productive through a variety of work arrangements, so we expect to supplement face-to-face interactions with Zoom meetings and remote work for employees.

As a result of this shift, we plan to realign one of our office spaces to serve more as a client meeting hub with a variety of workstations and drop-in spots for employees. We also have shifted a high percentage of clients to electronic delivery of reports and documents and we expect that trend to continue.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

We have recommended that clients stay the course and make changes to their long-term asset allocation targets based on life events (aging, retirement, significant additions to our withdrawals from their portfolio, etc.) vs. from market movements.

For clients where nothing has changed about their financial situation and where they can handle the market volatility of their current strategy, we recommend that they "stay the course." This has generally been well received by our clients.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We have added a few clients during the pandemic, but generally feel that most prospective clients are a bit hesitant to make a lot of changes to their advisory relationships or to their portfolios.

In times of high market volatility, the natural human response is to be cautious and not make major changes to their portfolio.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

On a limited basis, we saw some clients sell stock and move funds to bonds or cash when the market declined in the first quarter.

In some cases, this was an appropriate move if they felt that they could not absorb more short-term losses. For others, it was a mistake as they focused on the short-term and did not take a long-term view.

Michael Yongue

First vice president and manager

Bank of Marin Wealth Management & Trust

504 Redwood Blvd., Suite 100, Novato 94947

415-763-4966

michaelyongue@bankofmarin.com

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with clients? And how has it changed the demands clients are making of your services?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a number of our clients to become more engaged in the management of their investments and the planning for their financial future. It also brought to light for many clients that their risk appetite was not as great as they may have believed.

As such, clients and prospects now want to hear more about our investment strategies and the associated risks than they did pre-COVID 19. Additionally, clients want to discuss financial planning more so they are prepared if and when something like this happens again.

Tell us the general trends you have seen in portfolios for your clients in the first and second quarter of 2020 and if most of your clients increased activity, decreased it or held steady on their path.

The vast majority of Bank of Marin’s clients stayed the course. For those clients that were already very concerned with the future in late February and early March, we advised raising 12-24 months of cash to afford their portfolios time to recover.

Are there permanent changes that you see in your business which are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the economic disruption it has caused? Why are they likely to permanent, or if not, why not?

The most obvious change is that our clients, in general, have become more comfortable communicating in non-traditional ways. From meeting virtually to signing documents electronically, clients have embraced these changes and come to expect their use.

We also expect to see clients stay more engaged in their investment decisions and financial planning. This pandemic exposed a lack of planning for a lot of people but most now understand that a good financial plan can help guide you through tough times like this.

What’s your advice on the future to your clients? If it’s stay the course- how’s that advice received by clients.

For our long-term investors, our advice presently is to stay the course so long as the course still matches the client’s risk appetite and goals. For those with shorter time horizons, we have been recommending a more defensive positioning as we believe the markets will be volatile for the next 12 months or so. This advice has been received quite well as the last twenty-four months have demonstrated how quickly the markets can decline and recover.

Are you already seeing an influx of new clients as the result of the economy uncertainty- or is it more likely that people are less likely to seek professional wealth management assistance in times like this? If so, why?

We have not seen a dramatic influx of new clients but we are seeing current clients put new money into the markets.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

The biggest mistake was definitely panic. I cannot count how many client calls I received in February and March about liquidating portfolios. The questions I would pose to them in response were “What will you do with the funds in the interim?” and “How will you decide when to get back into the markets?” Once I walked them through the liquidation decision, most clients realized that staying invested was the best plan and their portfolios are better off now for it.

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