Four Compelling Insights: Connecting, Communicating, Leading and Learning through Crisis

August 10, 2020

Four Compelling Insights: Connecting, Communicating, Leading and Learning through Crisis

August 10, 2020

By Cheryl Nash, CEO, Tegra118

If you told me back in January 2020 how much our world would change by mid-year, I would not believe it. And yet, here we are – still in a global pandemic, with much of the workforce working remotely. Most companies in the financial services industry are managing this massive transition well, but this experience is more than simply coping and adjusting. Rather, it needs to be a positive mechanism for us to rethink our business models and how we connect and deliver value to our clients.

To explore these topics in depth, I recently participated in a three-part video webcast series, entitled “Connecting, Communicating, Leading and Learning through Crisis.” Hosted by Tegra118 and moderated by industry influencer Suzanne Siracuse, founder and CEO of Suzanne Siracuse Consulting Services and former CEO of InvestmentNews, the series featured three prominent wealth and asset management industry thought leaders:

  • Burt White, Managing Director, Chief Investment Officer, Investor & Investment Solutions, LPL Financial;
  • Evamarie Schoenborn, President & CEO, Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company; and
  • Joe Nadreau, Head of Innovation & Strategy, Wells Fargo Advisors

These insightful discussions covered many topics with four recurring themes throughout. Each one relating to what industry leaders are doing to navigate through these volatile times while also laying the groundwork for future improvement and growth. Here’s what resonated:

1. Technology adoption is accelerated

Abruptly shifting from an in-person to virtual work environment has been challenging, but there is a silver lining: it’s accelerated technology adoption by several years. Burt White of LPL Financial made an excellent point about technology: “Technology adoption is the new innovation.” Technologies like video conferencing, e-signatures and interoffice communication platforms like MS Teams have been around for a while, but we haven’t made full use of them until now. In the longer term, as we grapple with continued work-from-home scenarios, an unpredictable   economic situation and a more competitive business environment, we’re thinking more carefully about how to successfully utilize all the technologies at our disposal for the purposes of enhancing both employee and client relations.

2. Maintaining communication and collaboration is key

Technology itself is useful, but only if it’s accompanied by an emphasis on better human relationships and communication. “Working from home doesn’t mean working alone,” said Burt, discussing the importance of maintaining regular contact with remote employees via email, video or another medium. I’m certainly making this effort at Tegra118, setting aside time to regularly check in with my teams and maintain company-wide virtual connections. The technology itself is no replacement for the collaboration that comes when everyone is physically together, but it can be managed to replicate that experience as closely as possible. And we all agreed these challenges have us paying closer attention to our communications with both team members and clients, becoming more thoughtful and impactful. “Our communication is being perceived as being better than it’s ever been,” said Joe Nadreau of Wells Fargo Advisors. “That’s because we’re being so deliberate about it.”

3. Encouraging flexibility and respecting boundaries is paramount

As great as it is that we’ve encouraged and maintained virtual communications, there is a danger that employees will feel the need to be “on call” 24/7. “We need to guard against people burning out,” said Evamarie Schoenborn of Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company. “We need to build an operating environment that is sustainable.” I couldn’t agree more, which is why at Tegra118 I encourage our teams to set aside time where they’re explicitly not expected to answer communications. I also encourage team members to bring their kids to Zoom meetings, demonstrating flexibility to balancing work and home life now that both occur in the same place. These measures are necessary to prevent burnout and sustain a healthy home life, which in turn enables our teams to bring their best every day for our clients.

4. Strengthening brand identity and purpose reinforces culture

Finally, my colleagues and I agree during this time we’re thinking more clearly and consistently about our company culture, identities and purpose. With the wider world going through so much turmoil, it’s important for companies to demonstrate value when it comes to helping others. For example, Tegra118 is living our values and purpose by creating a greater sense of community through charitable initiatives, such as our recent commitment to support New York Cares and the Food Bank of New Jersey. This brings the added benefit of our team feeling proud to work for a company that demonstrates purpose for a greater good.


These key takeaways are only a snapshot of the fascinating topics discussed; they offer a glimpse into how people in our industry are learning to adapt and create something better out of this unprecedented situation. As Suzanne Siracuse superbly summed up, “The only thing that’s for certain is that nothing is for certain.” Thinking boldly to generate new ideas and develop more personalized ways to build client trust is key to our survival – and success.

To further explore this webcast series watch here. And, I’m happy to share we have more insights and industry luminaries at our upcoming 8-part Tegra118 Elements Virtual Conference, September 15th through October 8th. I’ll be sure to share more on this exciting event in the weeks ahead.

Perspective - July 10, 2020

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