Staycation? Advisers log in when they're off so they can chill out

Contacting clients, keeping up with news are top jobs on vacation

Jul 24, 2013 @ 10:50 am

By Liz Skinner

Although it may sound illogical, many financial advisers log on to work e-mail during their vacations so they can relax and enjoy themselves.

“Checking in helps you feel confident that you can stay abreast of what's going on,” said Richard Jackson, an adviser with Schlindwein Associates LLC. “I think there is a balance there.”

Mr. Jackson checked his e-mail three times a day during a June vacation with his family and three others at a Florida beach. During the week with eight adults and 11 children, he had to call only one client.

She had become “stirred up” when her personal banker told her she had to get out of bonds immediately, Mr. Jackson said.

“I spent about 30 minutes out on the deck looking at the ocean, explaining that we had taken steps to mitigate inflation risk in that part of her portfolio,” said Mr. Jackson, who works in Dallas.

Mr. Jackson also told clients before he left on his trip that he would be away and tried to have proactive conversations with them about the markets. He also let clients know they could contact Schlindwein's Chicago office for help, too.

Advisers aren't the only ones working during their time off. In fact, 59% of Americans check e-mails or take a work phone call during their vacations, according to a Pertino Inc. survey of 1,000 working adults conducted online last month.

And like many advisers, about 47% of Americans said they are less stressed during their vacation because they stay connected to work through remote technologies, the survey found.

“The technology makes a big difference,” said Kassi Hyde, an adviser with Independent Wealth Advisors Group Inc.

She vacationed in Florida last week with her husband and two young sons, and checked her e-mail daily on her laptop. Ms. Hyde answered only pressing e-mails, but in one case, she needed to deliver a financial document to a client whose divorce became final on one of the days she was off. She didn't want the client to have to wait another week to submit the documents that allow the splitting of a qualified plan.

Ms. Hyde recalled one vacation years ago when she worked alone with her father, who is also an adviser, when she had to make trades from a rest area for a client who needed money for a real estate transaction. Today she works on a team where others take care of asset management.

“Working in a team helps you be able to really go on vacation,” Ms. Hyde said. “Then if someone needs something, they can reach someone else in the office.”

The top tasks advisers say they perform on their smartphones are contacting clients, either through e-mail, texts or calls, and staying current with the news, according to the InvestmentNews 2013 Tech Trends survey.

Advisers are mostly likely to use their tablets for contacting clients, monitoring news, performing research and checking portfolio balances, the survey found.

Financial adviser Rick Holbrook went on a 15-day cruise around Italy and the Adriatic Sea this summer with his brothers and sisters, and he kept in touch with clients through e-mail. In one case, he used his laptop and Skype to speak with a client who needed his help.

“It wasn't really an inconvenience,” said Mr. Holbrook, the sole person at Holbrook Global Strategies.

Each night he logged into his e-mail, and thanks to the time change, it would be only about noon in Palo Alto, Calif., where he lives.

“Thankfully, the technology allows you do things like this even when you are a one-man shop like me,” he said.

Mr. Holbrook was more relaxed during this recent vacation than during his rafting trip down the Grand Canyon in the summer of 2009, when everyone was on edge about whether the market was going to drop again, and Mr. Holbrook had no way to communicate with clients.

At the time, he had told clients he would be unavailable, but “it was still a nervous time.”

Tim Welsh, a marketing consultant, said advisers probably don't need to tell all their clients if they will be away for a week or two on a routine vacation, but they should leave an “out of office” reply on voice mail and e-mail with information for another contact if someone needs immediate help.

One warning: Advisers should think carefully about whether they want to use social media while they are vacationing.

“Clients who follow you may be less than impressed that you can't return their e-mail, yet you have no problem posting on Twitter,” Mr. Welsh said.

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