As the economy wades through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial advisers and portfolio managers like Jeff Elman stand by to answer questions from their clients.
Elman, who is senior vice president, investments and portfolio manager at Stifel Financial Corp. in Pepper Pike, said the company’s 400 branches and corporate headquarters in St. Louis continue to serve clients without interruption.
“This is via remote access while employees worked mostly from home,” he said. “Stifel’s investment in technology and great organizational management allowed me to provide all services to my clients in an efficient and uninterrupted fashion. That is really what it comes down to – technology and management administration. We haven’t skipped a beat, even though we haven’t been able to see our clients in person.”
Elman said he hasn’t seen a major dip in the work he can do. He added financial advisers will continue to do their best.
“Financial advisers will continue to embrace working from home as permitted by firms and regulatory compliance, and the industry will recognize that employees can be very productive off-site, which can save these companies substantial costs in leasing and owning real estate,” said Elman, 58, of Bainbridge Township. “As for our business, we are predicated by ongoing relationships with clients and we are guiding them through the ups and downs of the financial markets. That is where our business may go up and down, depending on how markets are acting. But really, from that standpoint, our ability to add new clients has not been impacted because of COVID-19.”
Thinking of his clients, Elman said the biggest stressor right now is with managing clients’ expectations due to the unpredictability of the stock market.
“With what I do as a financial adviser, the most difficult thing is managing expectations of clients and keeping them focused on their long-term goals without making emotional short-term decisions,” he noted. “That is really the challenge of the kind of work that I do because when everything is great, it’s just that. It’s really about guiding people through these unprecedented times.”
But Elman said this is what his whole career has been preparing for.
“Having practiced for 33 years, I have experienced all of the major recessions – beginning with the crash of 1987 and the Great Recession of 2008,” he said. “It’s a piece of the puzzle for him. I’m a veteran of all of those major events.”
Elman is confident that Stifel will persevere through the pandemic.
“Stifel has demonstrated tremendous strength and operational efficiencies through a major stress test on the economy and financial system,” he said. “We’re definitely poised for future growth – not just survival.”