How Financial Advisors Can Communicate with Clients in a Crisis

Posted by Freedom Advisors on May 22, 2020 8:45:00 AM

In times of crisis, it’s important to give some thought to constructing a plan for the optimal approach to addressing your clients. Freedom Advisors would like to share with you our helpful step-by-step guide to assist you in helping your clients feel reassured and less anxious during this or any challenging and stressful situation.

Because financial advisors are in such a high position of trust, it’s vital to be as compassionate as possible. Investors may have heightened emotions and be fearful about the future of their holdings. As their financial advocate, advisors may have a responsibility to act in their clients’ best interest, and that extends to helping them remain calm and refrain from taking rash action they may regret later.

1. Gather information

The last thing you want to do is shoot from the hip, make a hasty recommendation and have to correct yourself later. Make sure you are prepared with as much information about the crisis as possible before you make statements.

2. Craft your message

Whatever your recommendations may be to your audience, make sure to explain clearly and carefully so there is no misunderstanding. Avoid emotion that may muddy your message. In written communications, short sentences and short paragraphs are most effective for speedy comprehension. For verbal communications, make simple, brief statements.

3. Be proactive

Don’t delay in planning your outreach. If you drag your feet, your clients may wonder if you are on top of the problem.

4. Practice your message

In verbal communications, both over the phone and face-to-face, practice your message before delivering it. Speak normally, breathe normally, and try to present an image of certainty. It’s important to maintain calm, project confidence, and deliver your message smoothly. To help avoid confusion or fear, practice makes perfect.

5. Listen to your clients

They will tell you what worries them, what they need, and what they want to do. Active listening is a powerful way to help clients feel heard and understood. Active listening includes the following techniques:

  • Make eye contact during face-to-face and video meetings.
  • In our current situation with the spread of the coronavirus, if you absolutely cannot avoid face-to-face meetings, eschew shaking hands. Instead, give a welcoming wave. Some businesses are choosing to do a little bow instead of shaking hands. Whatever is most respectful while avoiding direct physical contact is appropriate.
  • Don’t impose solutions. Instead, present some options that your client may choose from. In a global crisis where no individual can control the outcome, it is important to help clients feel they have some power, and making decisions is a good way to accomplish this. With your guidance, you can help clients to make decisions that may protect their investments.
  • Allow time for your client to ask questions. They may ask the same questions more than once. This is normal in a stressful situation. Be patient and compassionate.

6. Reassess periodically

Crisis communication requires flexibility, patience, and a can-do attitude. The situation may change and you may need to update your messages, but if you are ready to do so, you may reassure your audience much more ably.

We hope these techniques enable you to give your clients some useful and timely perspective on the situation as are currently facing. You may wish to review these tips with your Business Consultant or IBC, or even role play with them what you want to say to your clients.

In times of crisis, clear and calm communication is an important way to soothe fears and help your clients through it. The Freedom Advisors team is available to assist you with this in any way we can.

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Advisory services are offered through Freedom Investment Management, Inc. ("Freedom"), a registered investment adviser. Freedom does not provide tax or legal advice.

Topics: Practice Support, Virtual Business, Crisis Management

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