By Michael Donahoe
2020 was a year of substantial and unprecedented change. We were forced to adjust to new ways of socializing, doing business, and even enjoying food from a restaurant. With all these changes, we’d like to share with you how Harvest Asset Group responded to the “new normal” so we could continue providing the highest levels of service and security to our clients.
Our clients trust us to be there for them in times of volatility, and we do not intend to let them down. While we are lucky to work in an industry that has the ability to operate remotely, we also know that our preparations and forward-planning made our transition more straightforward than many other firms experienced.
We Prepared For Emergencies
Emergency preparedness and disaster recovery plans are part of our company operations. Because our clients entrust us with confidential information and we serve as the administrative link to client custodial accounts, it is critical that we have systems in place to continue doing business under difficult circumstances.
Although emergency preparedness is built into our company operations, we never expected anything quite like a global pandemic. However, the pandemic made us appreciate the planning we had done and the best practices we have in place to seamlessly serve our clients even through a crisis like this.
We Use Secure Electronic Communications
Since our founding in 2012, Harvest Asset Group has been a paperless office. Key information is stored electronically, backed up, secured, and readily accessible regardless of location. While we love our Monument Square office and enjoy serving clients there, we can access the systems and information we need to conduct our business and meet the needs of our clients from anywhere.
Over the last few years, we have invested in equipment and technology to allow a smooth transition between Monument Square and our home offices. Because of this, we were able to continue serving our clients without interruption, even as our team adjusted to new working conditions.
We Are Committed To Safety
In March, we temporarily suspended in-person meetings at our Monument Square office. In the meantime, both our team and clients have quickly adapted to meeting virtually. We’ve even improved our post-meeting follow-up communications to include a summary of our discussion along with all exhibits shared and discussed during our meeting, which we will continue to do going forward.
Pre-pandemic, it was simply assumed that client meetings were in person. However, the experience has taught us that this is not always necessary or optimal. After almost a year of doing business virtually, we do admit that we miss the more frequent personal contact. We look forward to a time when we can safely welcome our clients back to in-person meetings should they desire.
Let’s Keep Moving Forward—Together
With that being said, a number of clients have expressed a preference for at least some meetings to be virtual because of the time it saves them. In-person meetings require our clients to commute to downtown Portland, find parking, and often battle unpredictable Maine weather, so we understand the appeal of scheduling some meetings to be held virtually from the comfort of home.
Going forward, we envision offering our clients the choice of in-person or virtual meetings. We look forward to continuing to adapt and refine our best practices as we navigate these challenging times together. If you have any questions about your financial plan, your investments, or how we can continue to serve you safely and securely, please call us at (207) 775-1151 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Donahoe is the founder and principal of Harvest Asset Group, LLC, an independent, fee-only financial planning and investment management advisory firm in Portland, Maine. Michael enjoyed a successful corporate career in marketing and sales before transitioning to the financial planning profession, founding his firm in 2012, where he now leads the client services team and serves as the firm’s chief compliance officer. Michael earned his MBA degree from George Washington University and completed his educational requirements to earn the CFP® mark of distinction at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a Fee-Only and NAPFA registered financial advisor, a designation which followed the completion of rigorous continuing education requirements. Michael has lived in the Portland area since relocating from San Francisco in 1995 to be closer to family. He is active in community affairs and spends his non-working time enjoying the natural beauty of Maine.