It’s nice to see so many people wanting their lives to return to some semblance of normalcy. A week ago, I spoke to a client who happens to be a missionary overseas and he shared with me that although today is a sacred religious holiday, as an abundance of caution, his flock will be participating via Zoom.
Virtually all aspects of life have changed over the last year and that includes the financial sector. A year ago there was nothing but fear, doom and gloom. The virus was spreading rapidly with no end in sight and the financial world was falling off a cliff.
Fast forward to today. We’re distributing vaccines, the investment world has rebounded and forecasts may even be overly optimistic. There’s a sense we’ve at least turned the corner on the virus and businesses that were shuttered are beginning to re-open.
But in many ways, things have changed forever thanks to innovation and technology. The landscape of the financial services industry in particular has changed substantially. Years ago, when 401(k) retirement programs were introduced, many companies offered huge menus of investment choices for their employees.
My colleagues and I were amused that some participants were making multiple trades in their accounts on a daily basis. We wondered when they found time to do their actual jobs. Perhaps that’s why many firms have streamlined their investment choices, hopefully encouraging employees to stay focused on work.
I’m wondering if we’re witnessing something similar today. At a time when so many were working from home and perhaps a bit bored, the number of new brokerage accounts has skyrocketed. Instead of seeking funds to strengthen their nest eggs, many were speculating, hoping to hit a grand slam. It seems that building a nest egg in a disciplined manner has been surpassed by daily speculation.
The pandemic has affected us in many ways. Far too many have lost loved ones to Covid. Many lost their jobs as well, or saw their paychecks reduced. My hat is off to all those who are multi-tasking, juggling their jobs with educating their kids.
Over the past year I believe there’s been a lot of soul searching and perhaps a shift in priorities, including families’ financial goals. I’ve seen many clients offer help to those in need.
Before the pandemic many of our clients had never used electronic signatures. Today they not only use them, they embrace them. In the past year I’ve also noticed a subtle shift in how people communicate. For example, with my clients I have seen a marked decrease in the use of voice mail messaging and a definite increase in their use of e-mails.
My firm is changing too. In the past we hosted educational programs in person. Currently we use webinars. I suspect when things get back to normal, we’ll offer both.
There’s clearly a shift in how we interact. I believe people are more confident in their use of technology. In general, in a relatively short period of time, the investment world went from overly pessimistic to Pollyanna optimistic. Investor interest shifted from traditional companies to young, innovative companies with cutting-edge technology.
I wonder how many other aspects of our lives will never be what they were before the pandemic.
As for now, have a Happy Easter!
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Ken is a registered representative of LPL Financial. Securities and financial planning offered through LPL, a Registered Investment Advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. Ken is Vice-President of the Society for Lifetime Planning in Troy. All opinions expressed are those of Ken Morris. LPL and Society for Lifetime Planning are independent companies. Investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.