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How to Have a Political Conversation With Clients

November 2020 
by Michael Lynch

Politics. One of the topics that we aren’t supposed to talk about… but need to.

In the past we’ve been told to avoid conversations around taboo subjects. Well, times are changing. It is still crucial to err on the side of caution, but it’s also important to note that these conversations can, and should be had, if coming from a place of education and respect. The ability for a financial professional to discuss politics with their clients can be vital to their relationship, especially in today’s climate.

Financial professionals should follow these three steps when discussing politics with clients:

 

1. Listen

Discussing politics should not be a debate. It should not be one party versus another focusing on who’s right and who’s wrong. What it should be is an opportunity. A chance for your clients to speak freely, talk about their concerns, and address the issues on their mind.

Use this discussion as a time for your clients to ask questions. Your role as a financial professional is to be a listener. Quite often, a client simply wants to get something off their chest and to get a reminder that “it’s going to be ok.” They aren’t looking for argument during your conversation, but rather to talk with someone who listens, cares, and can help them to get the education they are seeking. Listening is a hard skill, but if you are dedicated and constantly work at it, your skills will improve and your clients will be grateful.

 

2. Be confident

One reason that financial professionals may not want to discuss politics with their clients is that they do not feel informed enough to speak about it comfortably. It can be a subject that causes uneasiness and a difficult conversation to have. It’s important to remember that your clients aren’t looking for you to know all the answers, but to give them thoughts or ideas.

Reference the material you and your firm have used, study it, and speak about it with confidence. Remind yourself that you have the skills and mindset to do this, and that you have difficult conversations all the time. For example, it’s never easy to discuss money, and in your role, you discuss money issues much more frequently than political issues. You know the best ways to communicate, calm your clients down, and help them to see the bigger picture. Be that leader when discussing politics with your clients. Leaders will be remembered!

 

3. Point to the positive

Remember to focus on the positives. Your clients may feel frustrated right now. They may disagree with some of their loved ones on current issues, and feel passionately and differently than them on important matters. A good financial professional will be there to shift that negative focus to something more encouraging. 

Use both current events and history as a guide for your conversations. Talk about our current state of the world and how we have made advancements in a time of crisis that we may have never thought possible. Highlight prior election cycles, what was happening during each of those, and how we as a country have faced adversity in the past and have always come out stronger. The common theme in all of this is how we come together. Be the voice your clients need to hear. Inspire them. Remind them that it will take work to come out on top, but we have before, and we will again.

 

At the end of the day, what happens in the White House is important, but for many of us what happens in our own homes and in our own lives is more important. Help your clients to see the bigger picture and to work toward a brighter future. Remind them of this: a Presidential term is four years. Are your clients planning for the next four years, or the next 40? 

Michael Lynch
Managing Director, Applied Insights

Michael Lynch is a Managing Director of Applied Insights for Hartford Funds. In his current role, Mike is responsible for engaging and educating both financial advisors and their clients about current and emerging opportunities in the financial-services marketplace. These opportunities range from tactical strategies in areas such as retirement-income planning, investment planning, and charitable planning, to anticipating and preparing for long-term demographic and lifestyle changes.

Mike joined the organization in 1993 as an annuity client service specialist. In 1997, he joined the Advanced Product Marketing department, where he developed an extensive knowledge of estate and retirement planning. In 2004, Mike became a regional sales director. In 2006, he became Vice President and national director of The Hartford’s Retirement and Wealth Consulting Group, which provided thought leadership and financial education focused on retirement and small-business planning. In 2012, he joined The Hartford Mutual Funds.

Mike earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Eastern Connecticut State University. Mike is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors. He is FINRA Series 6, 63, and 26 registered and holds a life, health and variable insurance license. He currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife, Kim, and their children, Josh, and Em.

Check the background of this firm/individual on FINRA's BrokerCheck.




Michael Lynch is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC.


Check the background of this firm/individual on FINRA's BrokerCheck.

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