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What Have We Learned from Times of Crisis?

Inside NAPA

I am both honored and humbled to be serving as NAPA President for 2020-2021. This year has already proven to be one of the most challenging for us all, both personally and professionally.

Every crisis, whether it be a financial recession or personal in nature, is a learning experience, no matter how brutal. Over the last 29 years of being in the industry I have experienced three recessions and the deaths of both parents, as well as grandparents, aunts, multiple pets, and almost the death of my husband multiple times—not to mention many professional struggles.

They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Then we should all be superheroes by now! 

Here are six valuable lessons we can all relate to—and sometimes need a reminder of:

Always remember your ‘why.’ 

We all have a reason why we do what we do. For me, I’m trying to provide a good life for my family and save so that one day I can do for myself what I’ve worked so hard to do for my clients—retire comfortably. I also want to be able to look back at my life and feel confident that I’ve made a difference in other people’s lives. Why do you do what you do? Don’t lose focus in times like these. If you don’t know, now is a time to reflect and figure it out.

Never take your family and closest friends for granted. 

Over the last several months, spending more time at home hopefully has given you a chance to spend time you never had before with your family. We’ve been given the best gift that money can’t buy—time together. Think of all the people that have died alone this year from COVID-19; it makes us reflect on the importance of family and togetherness.

Turn off the news and watch a good movie. 

Just like 9/11 and Hurricane Harvey, we just can’t seem to turn off the dramatically bad news. It’s good to stay informed, but give your mind a rest. Go watch that good movie or great series you never had time to watch before!

Call everyone! 

Your clients, friends, and family want to hear from you. Early on in every serious market downturn you have to call clients and be the voice of knowledge, reason, and calm they need you to be. Too much communication is better than too little. Plus, we are all mentally and physically exhausted—we need someone to talk to too. Find your confidant—and it’s okay to get a therapist!

Get physical!

It’s easy to eat and drink your way through a crisis. March and April were worse than the “Freshman 15” for me! It’s amazing what a good run does to clear your mind. This crisis has certainly put emphasis on the importance of physical health. And just to be clear, you still deserve a nice glass of wine every now and then!

Stop being pessimistic but be realistic. 

Financially we are all affected. Our plan balances have declined substantially because of the market downturn, plan distributions, and reductions in contributions. If your fees are asset-based like most of us, we are all getting pay cuts. This is out of our control. We knew when we got into this industry that our incomes would fluctuate. This is why we should all be living way below our means. Practice what you preach to plan participants and clients: Do your budget, evaluate the efficiencies of your practice, and start making needed changes now. 

Again, I know in time we will get through this, but more than likely this crisis will radically change our lives forever. I hope we all continue to learn from these difficult times and use what we learn to help others and ourselves in future. Memory can be short!

 appears in the Summer issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.