By Jill Nagy
Retirement Planning Group LLC, has been on the move, both physically and technologically, this year.
In January, they moved their Saratoga County office from Saratoga Springs to a building on Route 9 in Malta. More recently, the company moved its Glens Falls offices to 238 Bay Road from a previous space on Glen Street.
Both moves resulted in larger buildings and better parking facilities, according to James Corcoran. In Malta, for example, there is space for two or three more offices.
At the same time, working with PrimeLink, the company increased the technology in the conference rooms, created an audio studio for podcasts and radio broadcasts, and installed an internet-based telephone system. The new system allowed employees to take their telephones home and work from there.
Last January, David Kopyc, president of the Retirement Planning Group LLC, wrote an article warning readers of “black swan events”—unexpected developments. “Little did I suspect that we would have one in just six weeks,” he said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
When the “black swan event” arrived, the company was ready. They instituted bi-weekly conference calls with clients who could send questions ahead of time by email. Clients kept in touch by telephone or through the internet.
So far, the company adapted, and the group is “holding our own” during the shutdown, Kopyc said. Half of the six employees worked from home at any given time. The other half were in the office, appropriately spaced apart.
“We are making sure everything is wiped down and disinfected,” he said. There were no face-to-face meetings with clients, he added, but there is a way for them to drop off documents, checks, and the like.
During the shutdown, the offices were further modified. When they reopened in June, things looked very different. The conference rooms are now “COVID-19 compliant,” Corcoran said.
There is a plexiglass “sneeze guard” around the conference table, with curtains at either end. There are facilities to check people’s body temperatures as they arrive to check for signs of a virus, and there are procedures in place to disinfect the area afterward.
“We’re trying to do our part the best we can,” Corcoran said.
“It’s kind of weird,” Kopyc said. But, without the means to reach clients remotely, “We’d really be in deep weeds.”
Kopyc’s advice for clients is not very different during the COVID-19 shutdown than in more normal times.
“Don’t overreact. Don’t allow your emotions to make decisions for you. Hold on to your investments,” he said.
Being in the retirement business, “We have a lot of seniors who are clients,” and Kopyc worries about their welfare. He is also concerned because “some people are just not suitable for risk,” but “they gravitated toward risk” because low-risk investments, like certificates of deposit, were paying almost no interest.
While fairly hopeful about the rest of the market, he noted that stocks in fossil fuel-based companies, especially fracking, were “decimated by this.”
Some businesses have been hit especially hard by the economic shutdown. Restaurants and bars, he pointed out, were “totally decapitated, probably on top of my list.”
Even the partial opening has brought problems for local businesses, Kopyc said.
“Employers want to bring people back and they won’t come” because they can earn more from unemployment and safety net benefits. He advises employees to think more in terms of their long-term economic stability. When the benefits run out, the job may not be there.
Kopyc predicts, “We’re going to look back on this and think: It changed our lives, but we made it through.” He has faith that American ingenuity will come up with medications and a vaccine.
Kopyc and his colleagues share their thoughts and advice on a Sunday morning weekly radio program on Glens Falls regional stations WCKM 98.5 and WDKM 92.5. Saturday morning, the program airs on Albany radio on News Radio 810 and WGY 103.1.
Retirement Planning Group can also be reached online at www.rpgretire.com.