When the pandemic first swept across the United States, extreme measures were taken to stem the spread of COVID-19. Millions of Americans and countless organizations shut their doors to the outside world. Chances are, your financial firm was among them. Suddenly, we became a “work-from-home” nation.
As much of the world ground to a halt, some investors watched in disbelief as the markets plunged, then rose, then dropped again, then ... You get the idea. Since then, other forms of national and global unrest have been added to the mix, and market volatility continues to swing.
Early on in the pandemic, many advisors had to quickly shift how they connected with clients, especially when meeting face-to-face was no longer an option. Some clients preferred this new mode of interacting while others longed for the return of three-dimensional conversations.
That said, economic and global uncertainty remain, and the demand for virtual communication will likely only increase in the future. Some financial advisors may need to become more tech-savvy as a result. Consider the following tips to help you stay connected.
Personalize Your Emails
Some financial firms have marketing platforms that send automated emails to clients regarding investment news and updates. Now, however, may be the right time to personalize your communications and extend the invitation to talk.
Provide reminders about how to get in touch and how to set up and access online portals. Try to find a balance in your tone between “business as usual” and acknowledging the realities of recent market swings. Also consider any compliance requirements surrounding your written communications.
Get Advisor-Client “Face Time” Via Video Chats
Connecting with clients through a video conferencing platform may be even more reassuring than a traditional phone call. What’s conveyed vocally can be reinforced through body language, offering the next best thing to “being there.”
Most people with a smartphone have the capability to chat via video. Technologies such as Zoom, Slack, GoogleHangouts or other virtual meeting platforms work on multiple devices and allow you to share on-screen content. Giving your clients the option of a virtual visit may help build rapport, and your reassuring smile and demonstration of empathy and confidence can go a long way.
Use these tips to reduce distractions and improve your video conferencing experience:
- Have a pleasing, uncluttered background, but avoid a harsh, blank wall
- Sit near natural light or make sure other lighting illuminates your face
- Keep the camera at eye level rather than pointing up or down at your face
- Maintain eye contact with the camera/viewer rather than the computer screen, a second monitor or notes
- Pause any notifications that may pop up on your computer screen, such as emails, messaging or calendar reminders
- Use a platform that allows you to share your screen so that you can walk through documents together and bring added value to the conversation
You Make the Call
When market volatility repeatedly makes the headlines and your clients wonder whether their financial futures are in jeopardy, your silence may be deafening. Going dark when markets experience volatility may only heighten clients’ anxieties, whereas being proactive and reaching out may help ease their fears and build trust.
Consider picking up the phone to let clients know that you’re monitoring their portfolios and are there to answer questions, address concerns and strategize together. Hearing a voice of reason that’s often absent from media hype may be just what they need to bring a sense of rationality and calm amid the storm.
Be Active on Social Media
Some financial advisors may be dismissive of social media platforms, but chances are your clients are active on one or more social platforms. Will they find you there?
Many advisors have LinkedIn profiles, and sharing relevant thoughts and links to reputable articles may be appropriate to show you’re staying in tune with current events and market activity. Now may be an opportune time to optimize your LinkedIn profile. A presence on other social platforms may also allow you to connect in a more personal way by sharing balanced perspectives and using messaging apps. The first step, however, is to check with your compliance department to understand any rules surrounding your social media activity.
Help Quiet the Noise
However you choose to communicate, avoid contributing to any “doomsday” scenarios that invoke a sense of panic, and offer a level-headed approach. You certainly can’t avoid reality, but sharing some feel-good stories amid the chaos — there are plenty still to be had — can offer balance. Turn down the noise, celebrate the good in people, focus on what matters most in life and offer reasoned advice that may help your clients manage the situations they find themselves in.
Something else to consider is that during uncertain times, investors who don’t have a personal advisor may come to the realization that robo-advisor algorithms and chatbots can’t have those meaningful conversations or strategize together to determine next steps.
But you can.
Consider how you can appeal to new clients and strengthen relationships with existing ones. Use your knowledge and personal touch to help ease their distress about market volatility and prove your value as an experienced advisor.
Virtual communication is just one more way to address your clients’ fears and help minimize rash decision-making. Find additional insights for connecting with clients on an emotional level by using our award-winning Behavioral Finance Approach resources.