Reps may have been more riveted by the Iraqi conflict than most people. After all, the way it plays out will go a long way to determining the immediate future of the capital markets and, perhaps, the country's economy.
But some reps are interested on a more visceral level: Those who are reservists and National Guardsmen.
Shawn Powell, a Raymond James rep in Oklahoma City, Okla., doesn't anticipate he'll be called up, but the war has nevertheless affected his business. He is currently handling the clients of a reservist colleague, Mark Plank, a lieutenant colonel who was mobilized in mid-February.
“We don't know where Mark is right now,” Powell says. “He could be gone as long as two years. That's a long time to be away from your clients.”
Powell says the office was aware of the possibility of Plank's mobilization and drew up contingency plans ahead of time.
He splits Plank's accounts with another broker — a retired military officer — and the production the account earns goes directly into Plank's bank account.
“We were a little concerned that his clients would be worried, but they certainly understand the situation and have been real good about it,” says Powell.
The work is manageable, he says, but he does worry if Plank stays away for an extended period.
Thankfully, the law protects reservists at work by requiring employers to keep their jobs, no matter how long they're gone. And the NASD waives renewal rules if a reservist's license expires while they're on active duty.
Still, the process of reconnecting with clients after a long absence could prove difficult. But reservists take that possibility in stride.
“This is what we signed up for,” says Tom Lewis, an A.G. Edwards broker and reservist in Baton Rouge, La. “We're devoted to our clients, but we're devoted to our country, too.”