How advisors are approaching their biggest challenges during quarantine

You might be struggling with the isolation of being quarantined. Or not having any in-person appointments. Or feeling powerless with family or clients. During a Zoom call on March 26, three MDRT members shared what has been challenging for them and what they have done to counteract those difficulties.


David Eric Appel, ChFC, CLU, a 24-year MDRT member from Newton, Massachusetts

Richard Dobson Jr., CFP, an 18-year MDRT member from Cedar Falls, Iowa

Julianne Hertel, CLTC, a five-year MDRT member from Worcester, Massachusetts

Appel: The hardest thing for me is I’m a social person. I like meeting friends for cocktails. We have a bunch of craft breweries here outside of Boston. I love meeting people there. So I’m not a big isolation person. Like later this afternoon, it’s a beautiful sunny day here in Boston, my friend has a nice big fire pit. We’re going to do like a six-foot-away social distancing. Like three guys, just go have some beers and talk about all this stuff. I had four speaking events canceled. This is where I thrive, is with people and in groups.

So for me, it’s just like, how do I do this one on one? That’s my biggest struggle right now. And obviously staying healthy; my immune system’s compromised based on the drug that I’m on right now. So I’m trying to be very careful myself too as to what I’m doing and where I’m going. My fiancé and I decided a week ago that there was no more supermarket even, we’re just getting everything delivered.

Hertel: One of the things on a personal level that I’m struggling with is this feeling of being powerless. One of my best friends who lives in Boston has coronavirus, and I can’t do anything. There’s nothing I can do. I can’t go and see her. I can’t go and take her dog out or anything like that. I can’t do anything. My parents are in their 70s and live 200 miles away. Part of me is like, Oh my gosh, I’ll just bring them up here and it’ll be better. But at the same time, it’s not necessarily the right thing to do. So when I talk to them every night, I like listening to see if they have to clear their throat or anything. As soon as that happens, I’m going down to pick them up. 

But I think there is a sense of powerlessness in terms of the business, with the clients. I think one of the challenges for me is that I internalize a lot of the client’s emotions. I remember one day at like 6:00, I closed my laptop and I literally was ready for bed. I just was exhausted from the whole thing. So one of the challenges is to be able to not necessarily internalize the emotions and the fear. 

At the same time, if we’re working from home, we need to be able to close the computer and move on to something else. The hours in the day that I’m awake, I don’t have plans like I did before; I don’t have obligations in the evening to do anything like that. So I started volunteering for Meals on Wheels because I can carve out 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. most days of the week while we’re in this crisis. So at least it feels, to me, like I’m going and doing something. I’m not just sitting around doing nothing. I can do something, so I’m doing something.

Dobson: I think one of the biggest struggles for me from a business standpoint is the calendar, because we’re so focused on next week, two weeks from now, three weeks, one month. I need to see these clients. I can’t go do that now. And nor will they make the appointment to meet in May. Maybe it’s not over in May. We live in the future as advisors and businesspeople. It’s a little scary because I don’t have a bunch of appointments in April already, and I’m not going to go see these people over here. 

Pivot is what we all have to do. Pivot is what our clients are doing too. It’s a good time to take the foot off the gas from an appointment standpoint. We’re not going to get those. Instead, make that comfort call. Just to reach out and say, “Hey, I’m here. Yeah, nothing to do. But I’m reviewing your file and when the smoke clears from all this, let’s get together.” 

You’re not only giving that reassuring call now, but you’re going to bank that appointment. “Just so I know, how does your May look or how does your June look?” So I think that’s a good opportunity, a good substitute activity. There’s no substitute for staying active, keeping your mind off of the issue. But it also gives you a lot of purpose to what you’re doing every day. And I know the clients will appreciate hearing from you.

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