The recent events surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have generated an astronomical amount of fear in the world which has consequently impacted the financial markets. The reality of the situation has hit home for us all, impacting our daily lives as seen in grocery and convenience stores where shelves are barren.
First responders pleading for assistance and understaffed hospitals are featured in the media daily. The national and local media are reporting negative developments, escalation and events related to this pandemic and first we saw the markets react to that news. Then the economy followed and that continues to unfold. The extreme volatility in the markets has every investor fearful of what may be next. It is up to us as advisors to listen, understand the basis for those fears, calm the nerves and create viable action plans for our clients.
There is a paradox that currently exists in this era of technology, where we have a communication issue in an age where the world is more interconnected than it has ever been. Fear thrives in the absence of transparent communication. I confronted this dilemma and looked at my family’s business practice to see where we could solve this problem for our clients. Immediately my team got to work with a plan of action to get in front of as many clients as possible.
We believe that standard quarterly client outreach needs to be ramped up to weekly, and in some cases daily to calm those fears. Begin asking clients how they are doing and if they have been affected, then determine what level of fear they are experiencing and what specifically is causing that fear.
Listening is vital and asking open-ended questions will result in honest conversations that will genuinely help. In order to serve clients in the best way possible, simple communication with clients is imperative – it allows better understanding of their fears and will help them make rational and sound investment decisions. Through frequent communication, you can help your clients learn who they really are as an investor, and rationalize what they fear versus what you know to be true.
Our view is to use facts and evidence when sharing our capital markets outlook, then take a deeper dive into relating the market forecast over the next few years and how each client is positioned to weather the storm. Finally, this results in an action plan – whether to stay the course or make tactical adjustments to their portfolio or their plan based on their long-term goals.
Your personal communication strategy may involve email campaigns, portfolio wellness checks, weekly calls, or anything else that keeps you connected to your client, there is no magic bullet. Whatever strategy you employ, you need to incorporate these three key elements: first, maintain open lines of communication; second, build and refine your personal capital markets outlook by conducting your own extensive due diligence and research; and third, ask the open-ended question…listen more and speak less.
There will always be a range of emotion we experience in the market in good times and in bad times. Our practice makes a point to increase our communication in times of uncertainty and to create an environment where clients feel zero discomfort when calling us. At the end of the day, our job is to help people by providing quality advice and build outstanding relationships with our clients.
Los Angeles, CA