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2020: The Year of Challenge, Change, Comeback

Photo of author, Teresa Shawver, FPQP™, CPFA®.
Teresa Shawver, FPQP™, CPFA®
Manager of Advisory Service Standards

States across the nation cautiously re-opened their economies after three months of lockdown. Certainly, 2Q2020 was a turbulent time across the globe. As 3Q2020 continues to bring uncertainty, with recent increased testing, which is resulting in increased reportable cases, we continue to monitor daily the global, national, regional situations and will be prepared to proactively adjust as necessary.

We thank you, our clients, for your support during the pandemic as we transitioned from our “normal” way of doing business to one that was completely virtual. Thankfully, with the technology and internal protocols we put in place, well before anyone ever heard of COVID-19, we were fully prepared to make that move — seamlessly.

In the early weeks of the pandemic, our website traffic data showed the “new normal” also caused a surge in visits to our client portal page. We consider this very positive news, because it tells us clients utilized this online tool to securely access their portfolio data in real-time. However, on the flipside, we now see portal activity slowing down a bit since April which is also comforting. Why? Because that tells us you entrust us to keep watch over your investments, so that you can sleep better at night without watching it every day. If you aren’t already a portal user, we do encourage you to sign up by contacting your advisor. The portal is not only a secure means for accessing account information, but also includes a document vault for securely exchanging private documents, etc.

We are your partner. If we’ve done our job, we have emphasized that the best use of your time and energy is to focus on the things you CAN control during volatile times in market. While we always welcome questions and, of course, discussion about your investment portfolios and performance, we will always turn you back toward bigger picture things you care about most (e.g., tax planning by taking advantage of a down market to chip away at low cost basis stock).

McKinley Carter Office Re-openings
Our primary states of operation — West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland — have begun their economic reopening plans but at different times. Accordingly, each of our regional offices is at a different phase in the process. Fortunately, none of our team members or their immediate families have contracted the virus. However, all offices have implemented (or will be upon their return) the CDC’s strict health and safety guidelines to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of our employees who choose to return to the physical office:

In-office meetings and drop-in protocol

  • While we so much enjoy in-person interaction, our virtual meeting policy will stay in place as our preference for the near-term. Virtual video-conference meetings can be very effective and have become the norm over simply talking by phone.
  • We understand that meeting in-person or even a simple drop-off/exchange of documents may be necessary at times. When that is the case, safety measures using proper protective gear and social distancing will be taken to protect clients and employees. We appreciate your understanding. Please talk with your advisor to make arrangements BEFORE stopping by to ensure our mutual safety.
  • Moving forward, we will be scheduling client meetings in 90-minute intervals. This will allow at least 15 minutes for clients to depart without interacting with other guests. It will also provide our staff ample time to properly disinfect our meeting rooms. If possible, please do not arrive more than 10 minutes prior to your meeting time.
  • We are open to conduct meetings outside of our office when it is appropriate and safe to do so. We will, however, limit the number of colleagues traveling together in a vehicle for extended periods of time. It is even possible to meet directly with one or two of your advisors while having another team member or two join virtually.
  • Most importantly, we ask that you stay home if you are not feeling well or have a fever. We promise to do the same.

A Possible Silver-Lining?
The silver-lining to this self-quarantine period may just be that we have all become more comfortable with a virtual component to our relationship that includes virtual conferencing (GoTo Meetings, Microsoft TEAMS, and Zoom). Moving forward, we will retain and encourage these virtual meetings with our out-of-state clients, including video when possible. Microsoft TEAMS, specifically, is a very user-friendly tool that allows for easy sharing of screens and documents that makes for productive virtual meetings. A TEAMS meeting is even a great choice for clients who wish to include long-distance children or other family members in a legacy planning discussion on a regular basis. Geographic location is no longer a hinderance to keeping your loved ones informed about important financial and legacy matters.

Virtual meetings and telephone conversations remain a vital way we can help you on your path toward financial autonomy. After a few months of quarantine, some of you may have realized your definition of a “good life” has changed. What does it look like now? Do we need to adjust your goals? Remember, ANY life transition (i.e., employment status, business, marriage, health) is important to share with us, as it may impact that big picture we referred to earlier. We are in this together.

Our outlook is positive for a financial comeback, but time will tell how the remainder of 2020 shakes out. Will we see a resurgence of COVID-19 deaths in certain areas of the U.S., or will America enjoy an eradication of the virus like New Zealand experienced? Will our new normal include masks and social-distancing for the forseeable future? These are questions yet to be answered. But no matter what challenges we face, rest assured your McKinley Carter advisory team has planned for such downturns, will meet them head-on, and help you make the best financial decisions for your “good life”.

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