Leadership Perspectives | 06.04.20
Preparing for Better Times: A Message from BISA’s President
“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.” – Maya Angelou
As I sat down to write this letter a week ago, I intended to focus solely on the challenges and opportunities facing our industry. After recent events, however, I would like to first address what we have all seen and felt in recent months. The events of the past three months are alarming, and should make us all stop and think about how we can improve the lives of everyone. We must ensure that horrific events like the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are not in vain.
We must do everything we can to eliminate racism and strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our fundamental belief system is built on safety, security and taking care of people in all aspects of life, regardless of race, color or sexual orientation.
BISA stands with the minority community against all types and forms of racism — overt and systemic. We intend to bolster our diversity and inclusion efforts, and to promote and facilitate open and constructive discussions about race. Part of our journey in life is to celebrate our differences. When we defend and include those whose voices have not yet made it to the conversation, that is when real progress will occur to unite our society.
In this regard, I look forward to many productive conversations and BISA actions over the coming weeks and months. We must all do our part to ensure that all citizens can experience and live the American dream — safely, without the fear of undue process and always with equal justice. My personal commitment, and that of BISA, is to put our industry at the precipice of positive change. I hope each of you will join me in this endeavor. I welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions.
Turning now to other important BISA issues: I am writing to you from Florida, where I have been for the last two months. I have fond memories of the BISA Annual Convention in Hollywood in March — the last time I was with people outside of my immediate family. Much has changed, but much has stayed the same.
While living in my bunker and working remotely, I woke up several mornings to thousand-point declines and felt lingering questions of “shoulda, woulda, coulda” about my personal financial decisions.
Then I remembered “The Plan” and I felt like a young child at Christmas. All of these amazing American businesses are now on sale at prices I could only have dreamed about for years. Somebody wake me up! This must be a dream. I had all these ideas, and nobody to talk to — then I found FaceTime, Zoom and Houseparty. Could life get any better for a Type A?
We are all emotional creatures, and sometimes we act or react out of impulse or fear and make bad decisions. Fortunately, financial professionals are built for the types of circumstances the current pandemic has presented. Volatile times have created an opportunity to have meaningful conversations with clients. The majority are actually at home, willing to accept our calls, and receptive to the conversation regarding their financial well-being. We crave interaction as humans, and someone calling to actually talk to me has taken on new meaning after staring at the same few people for the past few weeks!
We are now racing to put out five-alarm fires. Much like the firefighter who is trained to go forth and fight fires when the alarm sounds, financial professionals are trained to help navigate clients through extremely difficult times. This is one of those opportunities to demonstrate how we can help people. But this time is a little different, because now we are talking about health and wealth.
We have come a long way in the last 20 years. We now have technology tools we never dreamed of just a short time ago. We are incredibly productive using the tools of our craft to guide clients. In addition, the products have become more transparent, designed for the individual investor, and capable of helping make major financial decisions easier and less risky. Asset allocation and planning tools are being used more than ever. Clients are willing to engage in these conversations if we ask.
I became a member of BISA 20 years ago by attending a round table for sales managers. To this day, I have colleagues and friends I met at that first meeting. The organization offers each of you and your firms incredible opportunities to engage with peers, meet colleagues with diverse backgrounds, learn about new products and technologies, hear from leaders throughout business, and be in leadership positions if you desire.
Firefighters spend the majority of their time training and learning about how to fight fires, and preparing for the next one they will have to conquer. They work on teamwork, roles and responsibilities, timing, education, discipline, strength and controlling their emotions. BISA provides the same type of interaction and platform for the financial services industry: an opportunity to prepare for the next fire that the markets, economy, Federal Reserve, or pandemic may present to you, your firm and your clients.
Take this opportunity to value your relationships with your family and your colleagues. Think about ways to be more inclusive in your life and in your business. Prepare to be better, to be ready to lead your organization, and to accept and achieve new challenges. It may be simple, but it is not going to be easy.
Ready. Set. Go!
Frank Consalo is head of wealth management banking and investment sales at Citi Personal Wealth Management and President of BISA.