When it comes to the corona- virus crisis, RIA firms must prepare themselves now by
considering potential client, employee
and financial impact, along with business continuity, cybersecurity and regulatory issues, according to GJ King,
president of RIA in a Box.
“This is a very unique circumstance,”
he said during a March 11 webinar
entitled “How RIA Firms can Prepare
for the Coronavirus.” Although the sector has faced market downturns and
extreme volatility before, this time there
is a “convergence of a number of issues
at once,” he pointed out.
Usually, if you run an RIA firm, you
are almost entirely concerned about your
clients when facing such market volatility,
he noted. And certainly RIAs need to make
sure they are communicating regularly
with their clients during this crisis, making
certain to be calm and explain how their
firms are handling the situation, he said,
adding: “You can not over-communicate
with your clients during times like this.”
However, in this particular case, you
also need to be concerned about your
employees, he told listeners, noting that
members of an organization’s staff will
not all react to the crisis in the same
way and some employees are at greater
risk of getting the virus than others.
Communication is key here also, so, “in
these times, you can not over-communi-
cate with your staff” either, he said.
Labor laws concerning employees
with medical issues vary from state to
state, and accommodation policies for
workers who are overly afraid of getting
sick need to be considered carefully, so it
is best to consult with the proper human
resources and legal experts, he said.
You also need to make certain you
are ready if an employee tests positive
for coronavirus, according to King. For
example, it is a good idea to make sure
in advance that there are other staff
members trained to take over for an
employee who gets sick, he noted.
It is important for those running
RIA firms to make sure their business
continuity plans address their communication strategies, regulatory considerations, tech stacks and cybersecurity, he
“You cannot assume that a transition to potentially moving to a remote
workforce will go smoothly,” he pointed
out. Although some firms are used to
their employees working remotely on a
regular basis, others are not and should
prepare right now for such a change by
testing procedures and making sure they
are ready, he said.
On the communication front, when
deploying web-based video conferenc-
ing services like Zoom for the first time,
it is important to offer training to make
sure your employees and clients are all
trained to use the system you select,
King noted. Other new services you
may need to select and get everybody
up to speed on include internal com-
munications systems such as Slack and
password management systems such as
LastPass, he said.
When it comes to regulatory considerations, you should make certain
your firm has the ability to continue to
remotely supervise staff members who
may not be physically located in the
office, he also pointed out. Those firms
without the proper systems in place
will be especially vulnerable to potential
compliance issues, he noted.
During turbulent times, firms are also
at an increased risk of cyberattacks and
systems being compromised, he warned.
There is a heightened risk of cyber incidents with the use of remote offices and
heightened anxiety among employees,
he said, noting employees may be more
vulnerable to email phishing attacks.
(RIA in a Box also highlighted these
issues online in a blog post.)
Jeff Berman is a staff reporter at ThinkAdvsor.
Reach him at email@example.com.
RIA LESSONS & LEADERS
By Jeff Berman
How to Prep for COVID- 19 Disruptions
“In these times, you can not over-communicate” with clients or staff, RIA
in a Box President GJ King says about the coronavirus.