Monday Moments | July 27, 2020
From Extraordinary to Ordinary
It has been an extraordinary time of change.
More than four months beyond the initial orders to shelter-in-place, what was unusual has become familiar – from masks, to outdoor dining at restaurants, to the panoply of home decorating snapshots we see during online calls. Individuals and businesses have made heroic efforts to re-design how they live their lives and run their businesses, and despite some disruptions, many people have stabilized their lives, and many businesses are getting by.
It isn’t better yet; in fact, it’s worse in some ways. In terms of virus transmission and lack of coherent national leadership, we are continuing to slide down the proverbial slippery slope. But we have grown accustomed to new daily routines, even while we have had our emotions run up and down the flagpole when a dear one was sick, perhaps without the ability to have friends or family present. This has been both engaging and emotionally draining – and, we have gradually been learning how to handle it.
Staying in Touch
When shelter-in-place began in March, we committed to stay in touch with our clients and community during this extraordinary time of public health alarm, market volatility, and uncertainty in all areas of life. Not knowing the path across this flowing river of unpredictability, we wanted to be certain everyone could reach out to hold a well-tethered rope as they walked. We know that decision-making at all levels can become really frightening when you feel you can’t see ahead, when you feel you cannot rely on expectations of events to come.
Decision making is our core service to clients, as well as to prospective clients trying to assess what sort of help they really need. In the beginning of the pandemic and the shutdown, it made sense in many different instances for people to simply delay decisions. For a short while, there isn’t a great deal of harm in delay. But the personal and economic distortions that come with minimizing virus spread have continued. In addition to our initial conviction as professionals that the pressures of this time would prompt creative effort and innovation, we are convinced that lives and businesses must move forward in the context of coronavirus rather than waiting for an ‘old normal’ to return.
Our publications are intended to provide access to that well-tethered rope for our clients, our team, and our community. Sometimes that has led to handling other issues in clients’ lives, from cash flow to property sales, from estate planning redesign to portfolio adjustment. For others, we have just heard that it’s helpful to know what we are thinking, and that we are available should they need us. Indeed, we are available as we have always been for all these decisions, ready to provide perspective, to help define the issue clearly, and to provide analysis and collaboration to support a decision, and to help carry it out.
Having Crossed A River
To be momentarily immobilized in the face of danger and the unknown is a sensible response. To move again, to accept help, to collaborate with family, friends and neighbors is also sensible.
That’s where many of us are today. We understand the risks of the virus well-enough to make judgements about our actions, and we know how to assess good hygiene practices at a store or restaurant. We aren’t going to let our hair grow out after all, and we’ll wear a mask while we get it cut. We’ll buy food or a book online, likely from a preferred retailer, rather than go out in person to get it.There may still be more rivers to cross, but we now have some sense of how to cross safely rather than rejiggering our route to avoid the challenge. We are ready to get back to efforts that have a longer arc, knowing that it’s healthy to make progress, especially amidst uncertainty.
North Berkeley’s New Normal
Decisions to retire, change career, move out of the area, sell a business, delay a wedding, reconsider assisted living, invest new resources carefully or re-position an existing investment portfolio, mourn a loved one without a memorial – our clients are moving forward now with all sorts of actions, getting on with their lives in their new ordinary.
For us at North Berkeley, we are continuing to build our capacity to engage with our clients’ needs. We are operating mostly remotely. While we look forward to re-integrating our physical offices and in-person meetings, our current work organization is stronger for the changes. We are able to engage with clients’ needs, as well as continue to innovate our own work processes.
In our new ordinary, we are going to continue to engage with our clients and community through our blog and emails. Our Friday Reflections will continue weekly, commenting on both broad and narrow themes in the market and the economy. Our Monday Moments will be folded into our other blog posts, along with shorter comments on timely and planning-related issues.
Thank you for all your kind words, and thank you for being in touch.
This commentary on this website reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the North Berkeley Wealth Management (“North Berkeley”) employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by North Berkeley or performance returns of any North Berkeley client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data, or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. North Berkeley manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.