This article appeared in the May 27/2020 edition of The Signpost. Written by Julie Neufeld and reprinted with permission from The Signpost.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused lots of disruption in people’s lives and it continues to re-shape how Canadians are working, interacting and managing their finances. With physical distancing the norm, financial advisers and insurance agents are among the service providers that have had to quickly adapt their businesses to operate at a distance while continuing to address the needs of their clients.
For two local businesses, Farrow Financial and Westminster Mutual Insurance Company, the pandemic has only changed where they work, not the relationships they maintain with their clients or policyholders. “Our priority throughout these pandemic months has been to continue to provide a high level of service while protecting the health and safety of our staff and clients,” said Stephanie Farrow, financial planner with Farrow Financial. “Keeping in touch with our clients has been important as we navigate these times. We’ve increased the use of virtual and socially distanced options and are conducting client meetings via telephone or video meeting as needed. One way or another we make sure we’re available to speak with any of our clients who need us.”
According to Christine Van Daele, president of Westminster Mutual Insurance Company, it’s in times of crisis when their members need them the most. While their office is closed to the public, it hasn’t changed the support they are providing for their clients. “I don’t think our policyholders have noticed much changing for us as we are still answering all telephone calls and emails as usual,” she said. “Our members are able to pay their premiums online and we have a secured mail slot for paper deliveries. We utilize technology to allow for secure signatures from your laptop or phone. Our claims adjuster is trying to adjust most claims remotely but if he is needed at the claim site, he’s taking all necessary precautions to protect everyone involved.”
While all indications are that clients and policyholders themselves are adapting well to being serviced at a distance, the pandemic has also been wreaking havoc on the global economy. For some, the resulting turbulence is a significant source of added stress to an already stressful time. “Of course there is always going to be cause for concern for investors at times like these,” said Farrow. “People work hard for their savings and seeing your investments fluctuate in value is always unsettling no matter your level of investment education, it's human nature. There are many scary media headlines and the negative emotions and stress associated are real.”
For both companies, supporting their clients or policyholders through challenging market conditions is part of what they do well; they’re a valuable resource during these turbulent times. “A big part of our job in times like these is to help clients keep their emotions in check and to avoid making ill-advised decisions fuelled by fear or panic” explained Ken Farrow, financial adviser and tax planning specialist with Farrow Financial. Van Daele said that a significant component of protecting one's financial assets is insurance. “Every day we see our members have house fires, hit deer, get vehicle stolen, have sewer backups, have an accident, etc. During this time of volatility in the markets, our members know we’re still protecting their physical assets the same way we have been for 163 years.”
While it may seem the extraordinary pace of change and uncertainty in the markets has never been more daunting, there is comfort in knowing that there is access to expertise and great resources within Belmont. Both Farrow Financial and Westminster Mutual Insurance Company, longstanding members of the Belmont business community, are here to help people make the best financial decisions for themselves and their family. For more information on both companies, visit their individual websites at farrowfinancial.ca and wmic.ca.