In one household in quarantine right now, there are two schools of thought: one, this is an unprecedented event that we will recover from; and two, this is the end of the world as we know it.
Both feelings are valid. And they’re feelings your clients likely might be having as people across more and more cities are ordered by mayors and governors to stay put in their homes.
Here are some tips to communicate better with your clients during this time:
Avoid shaming and judging. You might not understand where a client is coming from when they spent $750 in two weeks stocking up on stuff because they’re scared. They may be freaking out at the constant grim news of the coronavirus and the turbulent market and subsequently may make ill-advised financial moves. They’re probably also home watching “Contagion” to help them make sense of all this. But try not to judge them for any of these things.
Connect with clients on social media, if they’re open to it. Likely, your clients (and you) are spending your days working at home, batting off distractions from their kids, spouses or pets. Likely, they take respite in social media to connect and catch up on their memes or news. Research from Broadridge Financial Solutions found that clients want engaging and actionable advice, including on social media.
Social media “presents a real opportunity for advisers to provide more personalized communication and experiences,” said Chris Perry, head of global client solutions at Broadridge Financial Solutions at the SIFMA Private Client conference, as reported by Wealth Advisor.
Social media can give you a glimpse into what is going on in your client’s life and head right now. For instance, if they’re posting conspiracy theories, they’re likely freaking out and might need a touch-base. If they’re lamenting about how they had to cancel their wedding or their child’s graduation party, they might need some sympathy, wisdom and guidance from you. Connecting with them on social media can help you be more proactive.
Tell them good news. There is a shortage of two things right now: toilet paper and good news. Your clients could use a win or a glimmer of hope. Reach out and tell them something good.
Keep your word. Things feel uncertain for many people and they’re scared right now. They’re worried about the health of their elders, about their financial stability, and whether they’ll have a job at the end of all of this. The world feels unreliable to many of your clients. Provide reliability for them by keeping your word. If you say you’ll call in 30 minutes, call in 30 minutes. Don’t make any promises you can’t keep right now. Keep your Zoom meetings on schedule. When you can, under promise and over deliver.
Know what they want and expect. It will be helpful to truly understand what clients expect from their relationship with you right now. Ask them how often they need to hear from you.
Also, after you determine how frequently they want communication, remind them of their purpose and goals they set out in your first meetings and remind them how you will help them get there.
FPA is here to help you through these turbulent times. We are supporting members by offering an online Volatility Resource Center to help you navigate the markets and better serve your clients. And, see the new community on FPA Connect, “Navigating Market Turbulence Related to Coronavirus.” Here you will find recordings of four calls with profession leaders on how to support your clients through this uncertainty. Also, join the March 25 fireside chat with Rick Kahler on market uncertainty at 3 p.m., Eastern.
Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Next Generation Planner. She also edits the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at email@example.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn.