5 Best Practices for Communicating with Clients in Changing Times

Kristine McManus, CRPS®

Kristine McManus, CRPS®

06.10.20 in Marketing & Practice Management

Marketing and Project Management

The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for just about all of us. And communicating with clients in changing times like those we’re living through—marked by fear, economic uncertainty, and potential market volatility—can be downright daunting for financial advisors. But, of course, that’s exactly what you need to do. In fact, an effective approach to keeping the lines of communication open between you and your clients may be the single most important way to make a difference and ensure the long-term health of your practice. This doesn’t mean you have to come up with all the answers. It does mean you should do everything you can to be that much-needed voice of stability to provide reassurance and solidify trust.

1) Keep It Simple

In times of stress, we actually lose about 80 percent of our ability to process information. So, whether you communicate by phone, social media, email, or video, remember that less can be more.

  • Have one—and only one—clear message in mind. Trying to make too many points can cause confusion and obscure your intended meaning.

  • Use a chart or data to strengthen your message—but only if it’s easy to understand. Remember, the goal is to clarify, not befuddle.

2) Be Proactive

Waiting for a return to business as usual is never a successful strategy. Instead, adopting a predictable communications approach (during tumultuous times and beyond) can help clients feel a greater sense of control.

  • Set a standard, communicate it, and then stick to it. If you tell your clients to expect an update from you every Friday morning, they’ll certainly be on the watch for it.

  • Establish a rhythm so you can get ahead of client anxieties before they snowball.

3) Get Personal

Just like your clients, you are affected by market volatility or national crises. So don’t be afraid to get real in your messaging when the going gets tough.

  • Skip the blast messages. Personal emails, calls, and handwritten notes can mean a lot to clients.

  • Help clients focus on the things they can control, not the things they can’t.

  • Share personal experiences that your clients can relate to. Your story can help them understand that you’re not immune to what’s happening.

4) Show Empathy

Demonstrating to clients that you know what it feels like to walk in their shoes will put them at ease.

  • Do you want your clients to feel heard? Simply listen—and you’ll understand where they’re coming from.

  • Want to be a problem-solver for your clients? Get in sync by validating how they’re feeling, and be authentic doing it.

5) Be a Leader

Of course, clients want reassurance that you’re doing the right things for their portfolios. But they’re also looking to you for leadership to feel like they’re on solid ground.

  • Find silver linings to reframe client concerns.

  • Identify actionable ideas to help clients move forward. For example, the time may be right to talk about things like Roth IRA conversions or refinancing.

Turn Your Steady Voice into Your Defining Moment

Clients aren’t likely to hold you responsible for a down market, but they may penalize you if you freeze, vanish, or don’t return phone calls. Communicating with clients in changing times will always be a difficult job. I hope the best practices discussed here will make that job a bit easier. By providing a steady voice, you may find yourself in a great position to delight your existing clients, attract prospects, and propel your business forward.

This material is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific advice.

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