The roller coaster ride that was 2020 is coming to an end, and I, for one, cannot wait for it to be over. By any standard, it’s been a tough year. Wild market volatility, global pandemic? Check. Civil unrest and controversial elections? Check.
The good news? If you can make it through a year like this, you can make it through just about anything. With that in mind, and in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, here are five silver linings we can all be grateful for.
Although technology employees aren’t as revered as first responders and health care workers, they are among the unsung heroes of 2020. With little to no advance warning, the financial services industry moved from innovative technology in the workplace to employees working remotely from their homes. Tech teams had to get hundreds of thousands of workers up and running in multiple states (and countries) and, for the most part, it all worked!
The infrastructure built over decades, the personnel hired and the investments in technology paid off: The workforce was able to pivot almost overnight to become a virtual one. Although there were blips in service, most would agree the transition was remarkably smooth. So please, when you read this article, send a note to your tech department and give them their hard-earned due. This year would have been far more difficult without their hard work.
It was tough to suddenly move from group settings to individual ones, but Zoom and similar services helped make the transition smoother. Teams collaborated, advisers and clients had review meetings, and people found new methods to communicate and connect. I’ve been a huge fan of the unintended consequences of Zoom meetings: It’s easier for both spouses to attend a meeting, it’s simple to meet the next generation and webinars have such a low barrier to entry that prospects are willing to give you a chance. Even when things are back to “normal,” consider leveraging Zoom and technology because many clients will prefer it.
People often express the need for more hours in the day, but there’s never been a way to get them. As a side effect of the coronavirus pandemic, however, many advisers and financial services personnel stopped commuting for hours to get to work, and I’ve heard from so many how grateful they are for the additional time at home with family. Other advisers were able to use their extra time to pursue hobbies and charitable endeavors.
March was the ugliest month you could imagine. In barely four days of trading, the market plunged 6,400 points, posted its fastest 20% drop, had its worst first quarter, and — well, you get the idea. If you had told advisers then that eight months later the Dow Jones would eclipse 30,000 for the first time, they would have thought you were crazy. Yet that’s exactly where we are: possibly crazy … but in a much better place than we anticipated at the outset. Those of you who calmed clients and offered reassurance have earned their thanks — and their trust.
It’s hard to believe everything we’ve lived through in 2020. Our health care front line stepped up, not just with extraordinary care and concern, but with new treatments and ideas. Scientists and medical professionals developed vaccines in record time. Businesses retooled product lines and manufacturing to create hand sanitizers, masks and other ways to keep us all safer. Education turned on its head; many college, high school, middle school and elementary classes became fully remote, with our children doing their best to learn in suboptimal conditions. Churches streamed services, towns worked with restaurants to allow tables in the street and grocery workers earned newfound respect and admiration. Families discovered new ways to bond and connect. I think we all were reminded just how important the people we love are, how much our communities matter to us and how much we can do without.
Truly, there’s much to be thankful for.
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Kristine McManus is vice president and chief business development officer at Commonwealth Financial Network.
As our second lead editor, Cindy Hamilton covers health, fitness and other wellness topics. She is also instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. Cindy received a BA and an MA from NYU.