Financial Brokers – Now’s is theTime to Stay Out in front of Your Clients
Wed Apr 8 2020
How the world has changed in such a short period of time… Up until the middle of February, markets were racing ahead, new business levels were strong and Financial Brokers were pretty confident about the year ahead. Yes, there was some growing concern about the Covid-19 virus in China, but fingers crossed this was like previous outbreaks such as SARS and wouldn’t impact us hugely.
But then the virus took hold in Italy and began to emerge in every country, including Ireland. Stock markets collapsed, economies have crashed and most tragically, huge numbers of people are getting sick and dying. We are living in completely changed times that are being described already as the most significant world event since World War 2.
And with it, the world of the Financial Broker has changed utterly. Your offices are closed, staff are working remotely if at all, and every cost is being closely examined. While renewal and trail commission are keeping your businesses afloat, trail has been impacted significantly by the fall in markets. New business levels have been severely impacted.
From our conversations with you, most Financial Brokers have quickly adapted as best you can to the new way of working. You are working remotely and using technology in order to keep yourself and your staff safe and healthy, and to respect the social distancing needs of the country. However your clients now may need you more than ever, and so we suggest a few areas for you to consider during these difficult times, to sustain and indeed strengthen your client relationships.
Stay Out In Front
This is a really difficult time for your clients. Everyone has huge uncertainty about the potential impact of Covd-19, should it be contracted. Your clients are nervous about their own health and that of their loved ones, particularly about members of the at-risk groups – the elderly and people with underlying conditions. This is all then exacerbated by the recent falls and ongoing volatility in stock markets.
Now you can really earn your corn. Don’t just manage this anxiety on a reactionary basis, instead make sure your clients know that you are ready and willing to talk to them about concerns they may have in relation to their investments and pensions. Not every client will want to talk to you, but some will. Make sure they all know that you are available and that as best you can, it is business as usual. Face to face meetings may be out, but there are plenty of other tools in your arsenal.
Be easy to contact Every client must be able to contact you as they wish – on your mobile phone, by email or by video conference. Put a reassuring message and your additional contact details on your website. Get comfortable with Zoom / Skype / FaceTime / WhatsApp etc. These tools are straightforward to use, now is the time to start using them.
Reach Out to Clients
Every client for whom you have an email address should receive regular email updates, as the situation changes. Get on the front foot talking about market falls and volatility. Reassure them that now is not the time for panic. Remind them of their investment timeframes and show them how markets have consistently reacted in the past following a sharp drop. Clients will get comfort from your confidence in facing this investment challenge. Don’t just email them once and leave it at that, stay out in front of them with regular updates. Pick up the phone to clients who you know may be worried, they will really appreciate a pro-active call.
If you already provide a client newsletter and/or are active in social media channels, these are more important than ever. Keep communicating.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Every day, you talk to clients about financial planning, protection, investments and pensions. What about the client though who has just lost their job or has to claim income support or unemployment benefit for the first time? How should a client go about getting a will or Enduring Power of Attorney in place? You can add enormous value by knowing how these systems work and how a client should go about it.
Financial Brokers have a very broad sphere of knowledge. Even just offering a second opinion on a financial matter unrelated to the usual products may be the most value you can give to clients at this time.
Empathy and Compassion Are Key
Some clients may be extremely (and even irrationally) worried about their investments. Some may have lost their jobs or indeed their business. Unfortunately, some clients may have significant health challenges and some of them or members of their families may die. Each situation a very difficult one in its own right.
Whether you are reassuring about markets, offering advice today and hope for the future in relation to their career, or guiding a client through an illness or death claim, your calm compassion and empathy will go a long way.
If you do these well during these difficult times, you stand a great chance of emerging from this crisis.