School closings, empty concert halls, canceled tournaments, travel restrictions, social distancing...efforts to stem the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) have been far-reaching, and millions of Americans and countless organizations have shut their doors. Chances are, your financial firm may be among them. Suddenly, we’ve become a “work-from-home” nation.
As we watched much of the world grind to a halt, some investors watched in disbelief as the markets plunged. Advisors watched, too, wondering how they might quell their clients’ fears and guide them through these uncertain times, especially when meeting face-to-face was no longer an option.
While the current economic climate is concerning, there may be a silver lining for financial advisors.
It’s Time to Shine
Now may be the time when those who’ve taken a DIY approach to investing or relied on robo-advisors may regret their decisions, and others who’ve considered it in the past may be happy they didn’t make the move. During these uncertain times, investors who don’t have a personal advisor may be painfully aware that algorithms and chatbots can’t have those meaningful conversations or strategize together to determine next steps in this new reality.
But you can.
It may be an appropriate time to make your services known to those who wish to gain some professional guidance. And, even though meeting in person may not always be possible, now is an opportune time to consider how you may strengthen relationships with existing clients, help ease their fears about market volatility, and prove your value as an experienced advisor.
Here are a few ideas 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. Let them know you’re in this together.
It’s also a good idea to let clients know how your office is handling any potential temporary closures and how to reach you. 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 harsh realities of recent market swings. Also consider any compliance requirements surrounding your written communications.
Make the Call
When market losses repeatedly make 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 anxieties, whereas being proactive and reaching out to your clients may help ease fears and build trust.
Consider picking up the phone to let your 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 absent of media hype may be just what they needed to bring a sense of calm amid the storm.
Get “Face Time” Via Video Chats
Connecting with clients through a video conferencing platform may be even more reassuring than a simple phone call. What’s conveyed vocally can be reinforced through body language signals, offering the next best thing to “being there.”
Most people with a smartphone have the capability to chat via video, and technologies such as Zoom or Slack may be appropriate for those who prefer using a laptop or desktop computer and may allow you to share content on your screen. Giving your clients the option of a virtual visit may help build rapport, and your reassuring smile and demonstration of empathy can go a long way.
Be Active on Social Media
Some financial advisors may be dismissive of social media platforms, but as people practice social distancing, they may increase their online activities on these channels to maintain a sense of community. Will they find you there?
Many advisors have LinkedIn profiles, and sharing relevant thoughts and links to reputable articles may be appropriate to show that you’re staying in tune with current events. Having a presence on other social platforms may also allow you to connect in a more personal way through comments, sharing balanced perspectives, and messaging apps.
Help Quiet the Noise
However you choose to communicate, avoid contributing to “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.
Discard 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.
Clients may come to you looking to review their retirement strategy in the wake of recent market volatility. We’ve developed a helpful resource that may help you guide the conversation. Access our How Investors Can Take Control of Market Volatility guide below.
Written by: Chad Mueller, Head of Annuity Sales
Chad is the Head of Annuity Sales for CUNA Mutual Group. In this role, he leads the Annuity Products wholesaling organization, develops and executes the go-to-market wholesale distribution strategy, and is responsible for achieving increased sales and market share objectives. Chad has more than 18 years of experience in the financial services industry and brings a wealth of knowledge focused on retirement planning.