Kenneth Petrashek, wealth advisor at Frontier Investment Management, shares with FA-IQ how he is coping with work-from-home arrangements resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Dallas-based Petrashek has 10 years of industry experience and his firm has $3.5 billion in client assets.
“The shelter-in-place order has not had a tremendous effect on me, personally, and little effect on my firm, which has offices in nine locations.
Professionally, I am a retired police officer, so I only have 10 years of industry experience. My primary responsibilities are actually at Frontier’s San Ramon, Calif. office, and 90% of my clients are there. This is one of Frontier’s newest office locations, opening a little more than three years ago. We have two business development people who live there, and just hired a third who will start on April 1st. Over the last few years, I have traveled to California on a consistent basis. My typical rotation has been roughly one week in California and three weeks in Texas. My biggest change has been canceling travel until this virus gets under control.
Frontier management proactively decided to have most of us work from home well before the shelter-in-place orders were imposed. Approximately one year ago, we shifted our operational technologies to Amazon Work Station. I think we did it mostly for security reasons. However, it has been a game changer in our current lockdown environment. I have not heard of any major disruptions for us as a firm. For me, there have been none. My clients are used to me being remote, relative to their geographical location. And, they know I will get back to traveling as soon as I can. Outside of stopping travel, I am working from my company-issued mobile phone instead of my dedicated office line. I use a laptop with a docking station. Other than having a better printer and monitors at my office, I have access to everything I need at home. I am fortunate to have a quality workspace in my house and would require very little to make this a permanent change.
Personally, working from home has been a wonderful experience. Previous to this initiative, I would have to commute into the office every day I was in town. Best case, my drive takes 30 minutes, each way. Worst case, like during our tornado outbreak of Fall 2019, my commute was as long as 2.5 hours, each way. My realistic commute time, in normal traffic conditions, is about 50 minutes, each direction. I have easily regained 2 hours a day working from home. That is so important to me because I have a wife and five-year-old daughter.
This is what my day looked like prior to this initiative. I would wake up at 4:30 a.m. so I could be at the gym by 5:00 a.m. I worked out from 5:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. Then home, breakfast and a shower, so I could be out the door by 7:00 a.m. I would arrive at work by 8:00 a.m. and stay until 5:00 p.m. Usually home by 6:00 p.m. I would only get about two hours a day with my daughter. She goes to bed around 8:00 p.m., which would leave me another hour with my wife before I tapped out and went to bed myself. This has been my routine, Monday through Friday.
I now get up at 7:00 a.m., to be logged in by 8:00 a.m. If my gym was open, I would be able to work out during lunch. It is less than a mile from my house. For now, I work out between my tasks.
Getting to see my daughter throughout the day has been life changing. Her school is closed. Even if it wasn’t, I get morning hugs and cuddles now. She helps me work on administrative tasks. She teases me when I am on calls. My daughter has a personality that has her walking in during phone calls to make silly faces, even though she won’t make a sound. For a five-year old, she has been surprisingly respectful of my time. Even in small chunks, though, being available to her is priceless.
The same is true for my wife. We get to share a cup of coffee and get a few minutes of adult conversation before the parenting begins. I am available for the small husband tasks that take an entire minute, maybe two — none of which disrupt my workday. If I needed to stay with my daughter so my wife could go to the doctor or dentist without a child, I could. I mean, even just getting to sit outside while I talk to clients makes my life better. This list goes on and on.
Here is the value-add to my firm: I am not in a hurry to wrap up work at the end of the day. Because I can break my day up, I find myself working longer, even later. Given the two-hour time difference between Texas and California, I think my clients appreciate that. I usually maintain a strict rule about shutting down at 5:00 p.m. central time when I am home. When I am traveling, I work as late as I need to because my family doesn’t expect me home. When I am home, however, I don’t compromise on that standard very often. Working from home has given me flexibility which, in trade, has made me more flexible as well. Truly, it is just a lot of small things that add up throughout the day. Those things have actually improved my quality of life, while making me more efficient at the same time.
Bottom line, this is a huge win for me. I am sorry it took a deadly virus to force us to try this. But I am confident we will overcome and be better in the long run because of it. As for now, I am living my best life ever.”