Building Client Trust in a Bear Market

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Clients come to you for help and they want to know that you always have their back, and they won’t feel that way if they don’t trust you. Here are some ways to build client trust that will help keep your clients calm during a bear market:

Make a Connection

Of course, you need to keep your professional relationship professional, but you can’t connect with a current or potential client if you start talking numbers and processes right away. While that may feel like client communication 101, it’s a fundamental step to remember if you’ve forgotten.

Know Your Clients’ Values and Goals

You can’t serve a client in a way that makes them feel you have their back if you don’t know their values or goals. “Some financial advisers have unfortunately learned the hard way, they are not entirely sure what the client wants or values,” Rob Crowe writes in a Summit Brokerage blog post titled “Client Communication Tips: How to Better Communicate with Financial Advisor Clients.”

Knowing these things is vital, especially during market turbulence. When your client starts freaking out and wanting to do things that are not in line with their goals, remind them of all the goals you’ve helped them achieve already and keep them focused on the goals that they are working toward.

Be Transparent About Fees and Process

A study by Financial Engines found that 93 percent of those surveyed think financial planners should be fiduciaries. Demonstrate to clients that you have their best interests at heart by being transparent about your fees and discussing any potential conflicts of interest. Transparency breeds trust. Also, be clear about the planning process and explain what you are doing in terms they can understand.

Communicate Consistently and Respond Promptly

If you don’t do this, when you do finally send clients correspondence, it will likely cause them anxiety or stress. If you reach out with monthly or quarterly newsletters or reports, they’ll come to expect communications. Also, if they have a question, answer it promptly in their preferred method of communication, not yours. Concern yourself with their happiness. Be genuine about this. Inquire about the things that are important to them. Show them that you care, and it will build trust, says Angie Herbers in her ThinkAdvisor article, “The Four Steps It Takes to Build Client Trust.”

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Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at, or connect with her on LinkedIn

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