Shocking plunges in the stock markets in recent weeks have prompted frantic calls from investors to their wealth managers.
How many calls? About 100 percent more than normal, said Louie Valdez of the Valdez & Polanski Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in Westlake Village.
Valdez and other area wealth managers said in recent weeks they have spent most of their time calming anxious clients at the same time they’ve had to figure how to work remotely, just like many businesses across the globe.
Jason Sands, a financial advisor and managing director of Ameriprise Financial Services in Woodland Hills, agreed that there’s been a “marked increase” in calls, texts and emails from nervous clients in recent weeks. They sometimes contact him as early as 5:30 a.m.
Understandably, when stock prices plunge 30 to 40 percent or more, investors worry that their life savings may be imperiled. Many want reassurance from their money managers. A few want to exit the volatile markets. For the most part, the advisors recommend hanging tight.
“I would not recommend selling equities now,” said Sands, whose clients typically have net worth of $5 million to $30 million. At times like these, a financial advisor “has to wear a psychologist’s hat maybe more than a financial advisor’s hat.” He said he reminds clients that they have a plan. And it includes downturns in the markets.
Tony Battaglia, manager of the Raymond James Financial office in Woodland Hills, agreed. Now is the time for investors to review their financial plan. “And if you’ve never put one in place, now is the time to do so. When the plan is in place, it keeps things in perspective, and helps us to stay disciplined.”
He said it is best to use long-term market data when making investment decisions; short term data are too volatile. Another thing: This is an excellent time for investors, as Battaglia put it, to reflect on their true risk tolerance.
Sands said this may be prime time for investors to rebalance. For those who sought, say, a 60-40 ratio of stocks to bonds may find that the ratio is now closer to 50-50. Sands said it may be good to incrementally and strategically buy and sell to get that portfolio back to 60-40.
As for advice, Valdez, whose clients typically have $500,000 to $2 million to invest, said he likes to remind folks “not to bet against America.” With a fundamentally sound system and economy, the country always has bounced back from setbacks and, through time, gets bigger and stronger.
Meanwhile, the investment pros have been doing what many other businesses are doing in the coronavirus pandemic: Figuring out how to work from home.
Battaglia, for example, said he holds virtual meetings with customers as well as associates. “Utilizing our technology, we can stay connected to our clients.”
Valdez said his office remains staffed, but his team of seven rotates on a schedule: some are in the office at any given time while the others work remotely.
Although recent weeks have been hectic – what with figuring how staffers can work from home while handling a huge spike in client contact – “everything’s getting done,” said Sands.