There can’t be many people in the world who could say, “If only I’d had a worse case of COVID-19, I would have gotten more business.”
But that’s what Steven Boyer says when he tells friends and associates of his bout with the deadly virus. He can laugh about it now.
Hospitalized for weeks in October at the Geisinger Lewistown (Pa.) Hospital, Boyer, the principal and owner of Fiscal Fit Financial Services, a wealth management company in nearby Reedsville, walked out of the hospital still suffering some of the after-effects of COVID-19. But he also walked out with a list of new potential customers and referrals from doctors, nurses and other caretakers who passed him their contact info for future financial consultation.
“My wife said I probably could have landed 25 more clients if I’d stayed in the hospital longer,” Boyer said.
Those who know Boyer probably aren’t surprised by his ability to find silver linings in the face of grave challenges. If there’s a real-life Blake from "Glengarry Glen Ross" who adheres to the ABC (“Always Be Closing”) mantra, it might be Boyer. The 52-year-old competitive bodybuilder has built a successful wealth management business adhering to the motto “dedication, sacrifice and intense focus.”
Boyer offers tax planning, asset protection, risk management and wealth preservation, among other services. With high energy and good humor (he sat for this interview while driving to a private ranch to bow hunt whitetail deer) Boyer looks back on his COVID-19 with pride and a happy “all-in-a-days-work” outlook.
“There’s a lot of stories about me because I’ve been in the business 32 years and I have a great passion for what I do,” he said. “This is a good one.”
'Get Up And Sing'
Boyer isn’t certain where he picked up the virus but suspects it came to him while on vacation in late September along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where members of his family and others had organized a series of parties complete with live music.
“They knew I played guitar and sang so they were all yelling at me to get up and sing,” he said. “You don’t think about it at the time, but your lips are right against the microphone others have been singing into and I think that was it.”
A few days later, while he celebrated the signing of a new $1.4 million client, he was hit with a sore throat that eventually turned to a fever and dangerously low oxygen levels.
“My oxygen was down to the low 80s,” he said. “My mother-in-law was a head nurse and she told me to get to the emergency room right away.”
A short time later he was looking up at a lung specialist who told him that he had a severe case of COVID-19 and that the treatment that could have helped him earlier was no longer an option. Attached to a high-volume oxygen generator, Boyer began to wonder how bad his situation was going to get.
“I was sicker than a dog, not knowing what was going to happen,” he said. “I heard doctors talking about patients on another floor of the hospital dying of COVID-19. It was tough.”
Hospital beds were at a premium, but hospital staff found one in a room that coincidentally came with a view of his new office building across the street from the hospital. A big Fiscal Fit sign with a bicep holding a dollar bill provided all the conversation starters he needed. It was truly a sign.
He pointed out the sign to the attending doctors and nurses, one of whom had wondered what he was doing checking on stock prices on his watch.
“I started worrying about my clients and they asked me about it,” Boyer said. “I pointed to my sign, and they said ‘Oh, you’re that guy?’ They call me the Financial Bodyguard.”
Broke The Ice
That led to discussions about 401(k)s, retirement accounts and investment opportunities. Before long, he was handing out business cards and swapping contact information.
“My associate told me I was insane to be marketing while down with COVID-19,” he said with a laugh.
In short order, Boyer had accumulated at least six leads and three more came to him while he was in the hospital, apparently from word-of-mouth marketing. He recently closed on two of the leads and is working on others.
Asked if he thought the staff was perhaps humoring him to cheer his spirits in his situation, Boyer dismissed the idea.
“They were freaking interested,” he said. “And they had real needs.”
Boyer said he has never been so sick. He lost an estimated 20 pounds of muscle and is still not fully recovered.
“I’ve got to get back to where I was,” he said. “Not on oxygen but working hard. Two more weeks in the hospital, though, and I would have had a hundred more leads.”
Doug Bailey is a journalist and freelance writer who lives outside of Boston. He can be reached at [email protected].