Q&A: CFO of Tru Independence on Financial Advising in 2021

Nearly every person, industry and stock market sector felt the impacts of 2020’s upheaval, experiencing the consequences of COVID-19, the financial crisis and the presidential election. And there’s no telling what 2021 will bring.

With so much seemingly still in flux, we spoke with Jamie Sullivan, chief financial officer at Tru Independence, a business platform that provides an integrated infrastructure for independent advisors to grow and run their business.

Sullivan shared her insight on what advisors can do for their clients heading into 2021. She also outlined her perspectives on the real estate market — namely whether we’re poised for another housing crash — and the future of state and local taxes under the new administration of President Joe Biden.

Here are edited excerpts from that interview.

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How should advisors think about moving forward from 2020?

A lot may have taken place in 2020, but the markets and advisors ended up staying on the upside. In highly uncertain times, we tend to see an uptick in the financial advice space, and 2020 was no different. It’s tremendously powerful to have a trusted advisor to call upon to walk you through the current event and how that translates to your individual or family situation.

Last year, we endured a brief and monumental crash. Many experts predicted that the markets would not recover as quickly as they did, and markets continue to be in a healthy position.

Given all of this, advisors will have their work cut out for them in the year ahead. There is no set-it-and-forget treatment in these times. Advisors will still be leveraging their fundamental and tactical expertise, but ultimately must be braced for the unpredictable nature of our markets and the disconnect they continually have from our economic environment. I anticipate seeing more advisors wearing their soft-skill counselor hat as they focus more on holistic financial planning and building deeper and more trusted relationships with their clients.

[READ: Q&A: What Financial Advisors Should Know About PPP Loans.]

Let’s talk about the real estate market. We’ve avoided another housing crisis so far, but do you think we’re delaying the inevitable?

Preventative measures were rolled out that were not in place during the 2008-2009 housing crisis, and it’s done wonders to keep people in their homes, especially those who otherwise would have had to foreclose and lose their homes.

We’re also seeing a tremendous movement of people leaving high-cost-of-living areas for low-cost-of-living areas, given the increase in remote work. Now, the limited supply has met with increased demand, leading to increased housing prices around the county. It’s going to be interesting to see what this means for the local, soon-to-be-gentrified communities and economies, state and local governments and the real estate market in general.

What does this mean for the economy?

As we move through this period, this will likely jump-start the great remote-work migration that’s been theorized. Whether we like it or not, it will be here for the long term, shift our economy from here on out and be a major contributor to the new-normal horizon we are all patiently walking toward.

How has the pandemic affected the future environment for state and local taxes? How will these changes impact advisors and investors going forward?

With the blue wave in Congress and Biden’s administration, there is a high possibility that the next round of federal stimulus funding could fall into the hand of state and local governments.

If this happens, it will hopefully alleviate the financial strain on our state and local governments and ease any pressure to raise taxes on individual and business taxpayers.

Despite the power of these short-term fixes and preventative measures, we will still have to pay for them in years to come. These are the times when financial and tax professionals are needed the most. I would encourage investors to reach out to these experts to help in navigating and planning around these interesting and unpredictable times.

[READ: Q&A: How Financial Advisors Can Prepare for 2021.]

What are your predictions for the rest of 2021 in terms of economic recovery and the financial markets?

We are in a favorable position for 2021: The vaccine is being rolled out and will hopefully make its way to much of our population by year-end. Coupled with that, we have an expected COVID-case relief period coming our way with the warmer summer months ahead. We’ve also experienced another round of stimulus funding, and I’d be surprised if we don’t see more coming with the new administration.

With these positive developments, the hope is seeing our schools and businesses opening back up to pseudo-normal operations and seeing a significant decrease in our jobless claims. Given this, I feel the financial markets will be just as favorable as 2021 rolls on.

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Q&A: CFO of Tru Independence on Financial Advising in 2021 originally appeared on usnews.com

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