The financial market meltdown which occurred today, Aug. 24, 2015, is a stark reminder that being proactive matters.
Planning in finance, business and marketing is critical. Today and in the days to come, we will be hearing a lot about portfolios, risk tolerances, retirement, investment and financial planning.
Having a plan for your finances and retirement is important but many Americans fail to plan. Unbelievably, more than half of Americans have not even spoken with a financial advisor. In a time where 30-40 percent of Americans continue to struggle to pay their bills each month, it is amazing so few look for assistance.
These facts and the market meltdown puts into perspective the need for advisors and others who work with clients in the financial professions to be proactive. Communicating regularly is important to prepare for the future and to prepare for eventual downturns.
Proactive communications is key for customer service, relationship building and to maintain trust. Advisors should communicate regularly with clients by phone, in-person and now with technology: Skype, GoToMeeting or Zoom.com. These services allow advisors to meet virtually and “share screens.” With screen sharing it is much easier for an advisor to help his or her client visualize where they are and where they want to go. Engagement with clients allows the advisor to assess risk tolerances as well as educate clients about different strategies.
Staying top of mind is also important. Advisors must communicate and share information regularly and when important news breaks. As we move through this current financial downturn, all businesses can learn a lesson: it should not take a crisis for a service provider to contact you. Your team should be in regular contact and understand your specific needs and challenges.
It is also vital for advisors and business professionals to listen to their clients and the marketplace. What are they discussing online and what are they sharing? What are they (clients) discussing online and what are they sharing? What are they reading and watching? During a day like today, clients are watching news and business news networks; Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites are buzzing with news and commentary. Understanding your clients and where they get their news is important. Some advisers correctly ask their clients what media outlets they follow and they connect with clients on social media. Although constrained in some cases by compliance rules, there are no rules against listing and finding out client concerns.
A few takeaways:
- Communicate regularly with clients to provide information and education.
- Listen to markets and observe what interests and concerns clients.
- Provide solutions or at least assurances when crisis periods take place.
- Have an ongoing communications plan and process to take during challenging periods.
- Encourage planning; this is important for everyone in terms of finances but also in terms of business, marketing and when seeking personal objectives
This, unfortunately, is an historic day. Let’s hope it does not mark the beginning of a new economic downturn or recession. We can learn from today that ongoing relationships can regular communications can and do play a vital role. Clients will gain great respect for any advisor who is proactive and thoughtful.
By Bill Corbett