News Story

His Personal Finance Business Started Making Strides — Then Came Epidemic

'All trying to cope as best we can'

Helping people weather life’s personal finance curveballs and prepare for retirement has been the mission of Rafael Rubio’s career.

Rubio, a 53-year-old financial planner from Huntington Woods, has worked in the industry more than 15 years. Five years ago, he took the big step of starting his own company, Stable Retirement Planners, in Southfield.

Under the “stay-at-home” order Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued on March 24 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Rubio’s financial services business is considered to be an essential one, which has allowed him to keep the doors open.

But providing services to clients in the midst of a global pandemic has been far from business as usual, he said.

Though not subject to lockdown, Rubio voluntarily shuttered his office location and began operating out of his home on a temporary basis.

“My main office is closed to the public, therefore I have been meeting with clients via phone or Zoom video conferencing,” he said. “My phone has always been available for my clients 24/7 and remains so, so helping my existing clients has not been affected that much.”

The real problem has been acquiring the new clients needed to keep his company on course.

“In my line of business, prospects tend to deal with people they can meet personally,” Rubio said. “The pandemic has made it nearly impossible to do so. Before the pandemic, I acquired new clients in one of two ways: referrals or seminars I held at restaurants or libraries.”

For the time being, the social gatherings Rubio depended on to help establish those budding relationship have been quashed.

Rubio said it is too early to tell just how detrimental the loss of new clients will be for his company, especially without knowing when the shutdown might end.

“The nature of my business makes it hard to predict how many clients I would take on monthly, because cultivating a trust between a client/adviser relationship takes time,” he said.

In the meantime, Rubio and his wife, a registered nurse who cares for COVID-19 patients, are trying to establish a new routine at home with their four children.

Their son is among the many high school seniors whose final year of high school has been upended by the pandemic.

“They miss their peers, but we are trying to keep them on a normal routine,” Rubio said. “They also know to keep quiet anytime I have a Zoom meeting or webinar.”

“We are all trying to cope with this new normal as best as we can,” he added. “I’m going to keep doing what I am doing and hope for the best.”