How The Pandemic Might, And Might Not, Change Your Financial Plan
Here Is How I Recommend You Think About This Global Event
Chief Business Development Officer, Founder
Cory Baer is the Chief Business Development Officer for Strait & Sound. In this role, he fulfills a dual mission. First, he serves clients by ensuring that they have the best possible financial plan to achieve their long-term goals, particularly complete financial independence. Second, he also serves as an ambassador of the Strait & Sound brand by introducing the firm to the larger community and select strategic partners.
So many families experienced that same thing. This feeling of uncertainty will not likely go away anytime soon. It will stick in our memories. So you might be wondering—if the future feels so uncertain, does it even make sense to develop long-term financial plans any longer? How can you plan for things you can’t see coming? Is this an exercise in futility? I don’t think so. But I do recognize that COVID changed a lot of things and so we should probably change accordingly. After pondering this and talking it over with colleagues, I’d like to submit for your consideration some things you might want to change, and some things you might not want to change, as a direct result of the pandemic.
Before we look specifically at my ideas, I’d like to share some observations about where I think we are right now—as the pandemic seems to be morphing into more of an endemic—something we’ll learn to live with like the annual flu season:
- Life is unpredictable. No one saw this coming. This adds to the feeling of futility.
- Life is short. A lot of people passed away at a much younger age than we might have thought. How can we justify developing long-term financial plans when the long-term may not be there for us? Does that even make sense anymore?
- The ones you love can be impacted in ways that are hard to foresee. The pandemic produced levels of anxiety that most of today’s adults have never experienced—and children too. For example, my 9-year-old daughter was impacted by the uncertainty of not knowing whose mask guidance to follow. When you’re a kid and the adults who lead the world can’t seem to agree on something as basic as wearing a mask, what are you supposed to do?
- Events from halfway around the world can very quickly come right to your front door. We are now truly a global community and with that comes unpredictability. There are many things in life we cannot anticipate. I will virtually guarantee that most financial plans that existed before COVID did not account for a global pandemic.
- There are some things the government can’t seem to predict or quickly address. This is not a political message. This is our new reality. Before COVID, many people had faith that government leaders could foresee and prevent us from experiencing suffering from things like a pandemic. That did not happen. Some portion of our taxes are allocated for institutions whose role is to predict and prevent suffering. I’m not blaming those institutions or saying that they didn’t do their job. What I am saying is that if we have an unwarranted degree of confidence in our government to anticipate and address global problems, we might find ourselves very frustrated.
- Most of the health impacts from COVID-19 seem to be behind us. Because I personally experienced it, I now know how important it is to take care of my health as I age. I know I cannot allow comorbidity health compromises to go unchecked. I must take steps to be as healthy as I can be. Many of my clients feel the same way.
- Protecting the ones you love became more complicated. Most of our clients are family stewards and protecting their loved ones is their primary financial goal. But given all that happened during the pandemic, there seem to be more questions than answers these days about how money should do that.
I’d like to say for the record that I acknowledge all of the complexities I list above. This is not easy. But I also want to say that my experiences of going through the pandemic with clients, friends and family actually increased my sense of purpose. I now believe in financial planning even more than I did before. Why?
It is precisely because life is so unpredictable that we need financial planning even more now than before the pandemic. But our financial planning and strategies need to account for, to an even greater extent, the uncertainties that life throws our way. We need to build plans that are as flexible and adaptable as the situations we are likely to face—whether or not they are yet another global event.