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How to Turn Clients Into Crisis-Time Advocates

May 14, 2020 

Prospecting during a crisis requires a great deal of skill and finesse

Financial Advisors: This article is based off of our popular Never Stop Prospecting module. Click here to access additional content to share.


In 2008-09, Only 48% of Advisors Increased Time Spent Prospecting

2008-09 Financial Crisis’ Effect on Advisors’ Prospecting Activities

  • Increased
  • No Change
  • Decreased
  • Halted

Source: Oechsli Institute Research, 2009

A part of our series, Never Stop Prospecting. Developed in collaboration with the Oechsli Institute


Top advisors shine in times of crises. Whether it’s reassuring clients and centers-of-influence or reaching out to prospective clients, they’re prepared—and they take action. Much of what we learned from the financial crisis of 2008-2009 can be directly applied today. Advisors who put in the hours now will solidify client relationships while finding prospecting opportunities that didn’t previously exist.


What We’ll Cover:

  • Lessons from 2008-09 advisor research
  • Turning clients into crisis-time advocates
  • What you say matters, but so does your delivery


First, Lessons From 2008-09 Advisor Research

Today, many advisors realize their success was earned because of who they were in 2008-2009. Their future success will be defined by who they are today, next week, and the months to come—professionally and personally. Now is the time to start thinking ahead. Your competitors are just starting to react. This is your moment to stay in front of the curve.

Some of you may be thinking, “Will talking about referrals in an environment like this be off-putting to clients?” They won’t mind, and may actually appreciate your efforts to help people they know, especially if you’re prospecting with a great deal of finesse and skill.

Looking back at 2008-2009, many financial advisors weren’t proactive about offering solutions during that crisis. When asked how the financial crisis affected their prospecting, only 48% said they’d increased the time they spent on client acquisition.


Second, Turning Clients Into Crisis-Time Advocates

If you lead by taking care of clients during crises, they’ll tell their friends and family. Your goal is for clients to say, unequivocally, “You should talk with my advisor” to anyone who will listen. That level of advocacy doesn’t happen overnight. But it can increase over time as a result of first-class service during crises. Investors yearn for answers in crises. Your clients’ friends and family may ask them questions, such as “What’s your advisor recommending?” “Are you buying now?” “How is this impacting your work?” If your clients tell them how impressed they are with your leadership, it creates a tremendous opportunity for your business to grow. Why? Your clients’ contacts may want to talk with you if their advisors haven’t stepped up during the crisis.

If you’re at all unsure of what to say, we have resources to help you proactively convert clients into crisis-time advocates.


Third, What You Say Matters, But So Does Your Delivery

Let’s look at some best practices for contacting clients and then converting them into crisis-time advocates.

  • Outbound Phone Calls
  • Identify Two Types of Clients
    Many of your clients will fall into one of two categories: optimists and the pessimists. The optimists will likely need only short conversations with you. The pessimists out there will require more evidence that their current course of action is the right one. Either way, calls must be made.
  • Start Your Calls With Compassion
    Before making calls, realize that most of your clients weren’t prepared for a challenging environment like this. Try to determine the best way you can help each client and their family. This is going to be a real challenge for a lot of them.
  • Educational Webinars
    In times of social distancing, replace in-person educational events or seminars with video conferencing or webinars.* During crises, consider doing these as a regular series. For instance, “We’ll be sharing updates every Friday at 11.” There are times where you may want to be the presenter, while at other times you may want to feature another expert from your firm or a partner firm. These types of webinars are much better attended in times of crises, and give you a natural opportunity to invite prospects and centers-of-influence as well.
  • Social Media Posts*
    How can you place yourself in clients’ social media feeds with the right messaging? Facebook and LinkedIn are where the bulk of your energies should go. Consider scrapping the content you’d normally release (i.e. 4 Tips for College Planning) and opt for a near-constant stream of crisis-related content.
  • Video Updates
    Video content thrives on social media (or on your website). Have you released any crisis-related content on video? A simple reassuring message goes a long way; it shouldn’t be long or overly technical. A professional film crew isn’t necessary. If you don’t have access to fancy equipment, you can use your smartphone. The idea is timeliness, not perfection.
  • Newsletter Updates
    Many financial advisors email newsletters to clients, prospects, and centers-of-influence. Who needs to be added to your list? How often will you send updates? How can you track who opens or forwards these emails? What is your call to action (e.g., call us with questions)? Determining these details can help create a more intentional strategy.
  • Care Packages
    If you have some clients who are more isolated than usual, consider sending them a care package including snacks, a jigsaw puzzle, board game, or anything personal that shows you really “get them.” Think also about items they could enjoy with family members (e.g. baked goods) or things they might want to take pictures of and share on social media.

*Check to see which tools your firm suggests using and follow your firm’s compliance policies. Prior to implementing social media strategies, consult with your firm’s legal and compliance teams about social media policies and required participation in social media programs.


Next Steps:

  1. Download the Never Stop Prospecting workbook below
  2. Visit our Volatility Resource Center to get client-friendly pieces to help you shape your crisis messages
  3. Choose two communication methods from the list above and begin implementing a proactive communication plan 



The Oechsli Institute is not an affiliate or subsidiary of Hartford funds.