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Staying Social at a Distance

March 2020 
by Michael Lynch

As we make temporary adjustments to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy and safe, we are asked to limit our face-to-face interactions. With these new challenges, how can financial advisors stay social while implementing social distancing?

COVID-19 is certainly not something we were prepared for, yet is affecting all of us in some way. Remaining healthy is everyone’s top priority, as we are asked to frequently and diligently wash our hands, avoid touching our faces with unwashed hands and close contact with people who are sick, and practice a term we are now very  familiar with: “social distancing”. The CDC defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance from others when possible”.  

Most in-person meetings and events are forced to be postponed, which can be challenging for professionals and clients who value their time together. However, let us look at the glass half full, and be thankful we live in a time with many technological advancements that allow us to keep business, and life, going. Here are some ideas of how financial advisors can stay connected with clients through these disruptions:

1. Virtual coffee

There is one routine throughout all of this that will remain the same - your morning cup of coffee. As you continue to start each day with a cup of Joe, consider using this time to share it virtually with your clients as they do the same.

Pick different clients each day and use Skype, FaceTime, or something similar for coffee talk. It’s important to keep these face-to-face meetings any way you can and help them through conversations, especially the more difficult ones. A study that dates back 50 years by Professor Albert Mehrabian1 states that the elements of personal communication are as follows: 7% spoken words, 38% voice and tone, and 55% body language. Meaning, it can be a much more productive meeting for everyone involved if you are able to see facial expressions and read body language. For an even more relaxed conversation, host a virtual happy hour in the late afternoon or evening and talk over a beer!

2. Cyber check-ins

There is a lot of information from a lot of different sources surfacing around this recent outbreak, and clients may be fearful right now, especially those who are living alone. So now is the time help. Shift the focus of the word “social” to mean “check in”. Call your clients. Send an email. Host a webinar. For some, an immediate need might be their mental and physical well-being more so than their financial well-being. Reaching out in what may seem the simplest way can have the greatest impact, and something as small as a phone call or an email can go a long way.

3. Electronic gift giving

While it’s easy to get down or give in to the panic, try re-evaluating your situation, counting your blessings, and paying it forward. Consider sending virtual greeting cards to your clients to say hello and let them know you are thinking of them during this time. If you are able, take this one step further and send them virtual gift cards. Several stories are emerging of people sending e-gifts to one another and encouraging them to support a local business who could use some help. Following suit will show your clients that you are thinking of them and thinking of others in need, while also helping you to feel like you’ve made a difference.

Financial advisors are well suited today to think about the term “social distancing” and focus on social, not distancing. Distancing means moving, creating space, separation. Now is the time for advisors to make a difference. We need to keep a healthy distance from one another for all of our safety, but that doesn’t mean not connecting in alternative, meaningful ways.

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.

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1Albert Mehrabian’s “7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication” 

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

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