Listen below for this week’s Financial Connections Update.
This podcast will be a little different than previous ones. You may know someone impacted by COVID-19. It has touched us too.
Brian lost his father-in-law to the disease. He was in a memory care facility in Southern California. Flavia, whose mother lived in Rio de Janeiro, also passed away from this disease. It was especially difficult because she couldn’t fly down to be with her.
John-Paul’s partner, Kiki, works at a retirement home in San Rafael. Although she wears PPE, one of the residents was just diagnosed with COVID. The staff and residents have all been tested and John-Paul is self-quarantining until results are in.
As you know, the Financial Connections Team has been working remotely since March 17. Beginning June 1, we returned to the office. There is really no substitute for walking (with face coverings) down the hall to have a brief discussion that, could take 20 emails when working from home!
If you are unfamiliar with our CM layout, we each have an office except Danielle who is all by herself at the front of the suite. We wear face coverings in the common area. Every time I went to the store, I bought the one allotted hand sanitizer until I had enough for each office. And, of course, disinfectant in the kitchen. Only one person is in the kitchen at a time.
Instead of meeting in the conference room, we meet from our offices via Microsoft Teams. It works well as an internal conference meeting software.
There were, of course some bumps along the way. As many of you are aware, we like to utilize technology. In fact, we tend to be earlier adopters. We installed an electronic document storage system instead of keeping paper files back in 2002!
We all use our office computers for webinars, but this is in listening mode only. I didn’t stop to think whether the computer had a microphone feature. Well, it doesn’t.
Since meetings, whether client, vendor or staff will be done through the office computer, we needed a way to communicate. Initially, I thought about Bluetooth headphones but, you guessed it, the computer doesn’t have the built-in capacity for Bluetooth. Instead, we bought Logitech headphones that plug in via a USB connection to solve the problem.
The next bump was rather humorous – there is no camera on our office computers. Now I’m actually fine with that. In fact, I run the other way when I see a camera. I dislike having my picture taken. However, we are in a new reality.
During the shelter-in-place, we used our Microsoft Surface laptops. They come with cameras, Bluetooth capability and speakers. But working on a 12-inch screen long-term doesn’t cut it. That is one of the reasons I’m so glad to be back in the office. I have 2 – 27” monitors. My eyes thank me every day.
So, I ordered webcams for each computer. We no longer meet in a conference room where the 8 of us can look at the 75 inch TV monitor together. Unfortunately, the webcams we like have been on backorder. Until we find an alternative, we have two mobile webcams that anyone can use at their desk and we all keep our Surfaces’ handy as an alternative.
We think it will be some time before anyone is comfortable with in person meetings. If you would like to virtually meet with us, we can set up an audio or visual meeting. Just let us know.
While at home, we also took the opportunity to listen to webinars to fulfill our continuing education requirements. Flavia and John-Paul both plan to become Certified Financial Planners so they used the time to study.
This coming weekend I was supposed to be on a cruise to Alaska celebrating my 70th birthday. I always find birthdays an interesting experience. It is a time to reflect on the past year and look to the future. In a world with such turmoil, I am continually reminded how fortunate I am. I continue to enjoy life with my wife of 43+ years, and good friends. I have a nice home, and earn enough money to live on. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful group of people to work with at Financial Connections – they are as much friends as they are employees. And our clients always make me feel that I am contributing to their life. How lucky to be me.
Looking forward, I plan to travel with you through this difficult time until we can come out the other side to a better place. I still harbor the hope that I can take off some time to try and hit a golf ball regularly, learn Spanish and maybe take some cruises.
Thinking positive I signed up for an October cruise through Canada and New England to see the leaves change color. Alas, on June 5th I received notice that Canada is not permitting any ships with more than 100 people into the country so it is cancelled. Fortunately, the cruise line provided some nice credits through 2023 to book again. I still plan to try the cruise to Alaska again in 2021. I’ll just be 70 two years in a row.
Until next time, take care