I am the founder of NextGen Financial Advice, a fee-only RIA in Burnsville, Minn. When I started my company in 2018, I wanted to be able to work 100% virtually out of convenience for younger clients and to hopefully streamline my administrative work. I had no idea there would be a global pandemic down the road where being all virtual would really help me. I’m not working as much as I’d like, but I’m making it work.
I have four kids—ages 13, 10, 5, and 4—two of whom have autism. My wife is a labor and delivery nurse at a hospital about 20 minutes away and she works third shift. During the day, I am working to serve my clients and also help my kids with their online classes, all while being quiet so my wife can sleep. As the pandemic started to pick up a few weeks ago, we really thought that would be a nightmare scenario. So far, after three or four weeks of school being canceled and being transitioned to online, I have to say it has been better than expected.
My wife hasn’t worked as much in the past two weeks due to her block schedule so that has allowed me to work more during the day while she is helping the kids with their schoolwork. I’m working around her work schedule at this point. Sometimes, that is in the morning before she has to take a nap in preparation for working that night; other times it’s at night while she is working. I could also be working at my kitchen table while my kids do their schoolwork or watch a movie. There will be time coming where my wife will work many days in a row and things will be more challenging.
I am leveraging email significantly more than I had been and send weekly mass emails to clients with a document I typed to explain everything I’d want to tell them over the phone. I’m encouraging clients to email back or call if they are concerned or want to talk more. I’ve gone beyond just sending out financial information about the stock market and plugged in words of encouragement as I’m concerned about people’s mental health as most are confined to being at home for an unknown amount of time. Across the general population, we have many people battling anxiety and depression. These issues will be magnified during a time like this.
Up to this point, there have been a few times where it’s been difficult to manage working and the schoolwork of my kids, but it hasn’t been that bad. In Minnesota, the virus isn’t projected to peak for another several weeks. The big unknown is when my wife is treating COVID patients—how will that affect her mentally and also our living situation. Should she live separately from the rest of the family or not? We will see what happens.
Brian Jones is the founder of NextGen Financial Advice. Before entering the financial industry in 2012, he was a pharmaceutical scientist researching experimental medications in various diseases at the University of Toledo and University of Iowa.