Clients are looking for leadership, especially in times of crisis or uncertainty. If you are panicked or indecisive, your clients will sense that, so it is crucial to reassure them that you are confident and here to help. Take a lesson from experienced advisors, and be the leader that your clients want you to be by doing the following:
1. Have an opinion.
About the markets. About the economy. About the future. About the current state of the union. Have an opinion about it all. Remember that your clients believe in you and trust your judgment. Use the resources from your firm and external partners to collect your facts and build a story. Believe in your story and be able to articulate it concisely. If you are confident in what you are communicating, then your clients should have no worry in trusting your beliefs.
2. Make your clients’ financial plan the cornerstone of the conversation.
When clients want to make rash decisions, or go to cash, etc., pull out the plan. Continually refer back to the plan and review what contingencies were put into place, and why. It is very likely that the plan accounted for potential market corrections, and there is a margin to withstand some level of volatility without major lifestyle or goal adjustments.
Use the financial plan as a decision-making tool. Look at alternative scenarios, such as considering this might not get better for a year. How does that impact the decisions that they are making? Offer suggestions, like modeling the plan with your client working for an extra year, or possibly not buying that second home for the time being. See what impact some of these decisions have on your clients’ longer term plans. Oftentimes, if clients can see that their plans are not completely derailed, and they just may have to narrow down some of their choices, they can adjust their worst-case scenario mindset.
3. Help advisors take care of themselves.
Burning the candle at both ends will not have a positive impact on your clients’ outcomes. Sleep, exercise, hydration, and boundaries for family time become much more important during stressful times. Even taking 15 minutes for a walk around the block to feel the fresh air can make all of the difference.
Clients can call their advisor for that trusted advice, to be their sounding board, to help them and to rationalize their situations. That is such a crucial part of the advisor role. But have you asked yourself who your trusted advisor is in times like these? Is it a colleague, mentor, family member, spouse, coach, consultant? Be sure you are clear on who your “person” is and, just as important, make sure that person knows what role they are playing for you. Support systems during times of crisis and volatility can make the experience so much more manageable.
The more balanced and confident you are as an advisor, the more your clients will mirror those sentiments. There will be many clients out there who do not receive the advice and leadership that they yearn for. See this as an opportunity to educate prospects - dust off your prospecting pipeline, reach out to those individuals, and share your thoughts and processes with them. Chances are, their advisor has not done this. They will respect you for reaching out to them proactively during a volatile time. And then, they may just become a client.