The wealth management industry is finding creative ways to connect with our clients during this time of social distancing. Instead of seeing our clients face-to- face, most advisors use FaceTime, Skype, Webex or a Zoom-like technology to conduct business meetings remotely, trying to keep them as personal as possible.
Advisors are also helping their clients navigate the Coronovirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.
There is an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that typically guarantees a $10,000 payment (and you do not have to pay it back). Due to the fact that so many people are applying, they have run out of funding. If you qualify, we recommend submitting your application in case they make more money available.
The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) is a great program for those that have employees. Even if you are self-employed, you may apply. This program has rules on whether the money you receive is forgiven or not. However, this program also ran out of money within days of accepting applications. The PPP requires you to apply through a bank. If you have a banking relationship, we recommend reaching out to the bank. If you do not, we recommend building a relationship now with a community bank to help submit your application in case a second round of money opens up. Advisors are helping their clients complete the forms as well as working with their bankers to make sure the questions are answered accurately.
As you know, the markets are volatile now. Before COVID-19 the market was looking very strong. Now that COVID-19 brings such uncertainty in how long people will be working from home, unemployment figures are up and businesses are losing money, the market has dropped materially. Interest rates and oil prices dropping have been big factors too.
Advisors are trying to stop clients from panicking and leaving the markets at a low. You will hear many advisors talking about not timing the market. If clients are now finding themselves unemployed, how large is their rainy day fund? Do they need liquidity? How is their risk tolerance?
On the other hand, when the market is down, it is a buying opportunity. So advisors are assisting their clients in what to purchase. Advisors are doing a lot of dollar cost averaging since no one knows when the market low is at this point. Dollar-cost averaging is buying an investment a little at a time.
Advisors are also informing clients to update their estate planning documents and/or get estate planning documents if they do not have any yet. A lot of states have allowed attorneys to start signing estate planning documents (last will and testaments, trusts, financial powers of attorney and advance directives for health care) remotely. Each state has its own rules to navigate. Georgia is allowing us to do remote estate tax document signings. Attorneys are setting-up Zooms with the clients, two disinterested witnesses (no one named in the documents, usually members of our team) witnesses and the attorney/notary. Once the client signs in front of all of us on Zoom, the documents are scanned and each person witnesses and notarizes at their remote location. The negative is that after the shelter-in-place is over, we will need to re-sign the documents again in person. The positive is for those who do not have estate documents, we can finalize them during this time.
If you are unsure what to do with the government loans, you are worried about the market volatility and/or need estate planning documents, you should reach out to an advisor today.
Laura K Schilling is a wealth manager, estate planning attorney and owner of Financial Innovations, www.financialinnovations.biz and www.estateinnovations.biz.