In a previous article titled “How many hats do you wear?” I identified the role of a financial adviser as that of,
- Dream Coach
- Lifestyle Enabler
- Behaviour Coach
- Family Finance Guide
- Financial Planner
All of these roles are still relevant and applicable, but I think we have learned in the last few months that you can offer and indeed do offer far more than this, particularly when the chips are down. And the chips really are down at the moment, as your clients potentially face the threats of,
- A serious ill-health for themselves and their family members as a result of Covid-19
- The loss of loved ones to Covid-19
- The loss of their job
- Income reduction
- Loss of value in their investments and pensions
- Significant social restrictions remaining in place for some time
- A very gloomy economic picture
So what are the additional roles that you can offer your clients in these very challenging times?
For many of your clients, their financial situation has been turned on its head. The pandemic has exploded into our lives with enormous financial consequences for many people. Businesses are closed, some never to re-open, others to remain closed for quite some time yet. Lots of people have seen a significant reduction or total loss of income and are scrambling around, trying to decide how to avoid the financial abyss.
You have a choice. Do you wait for your clients to contact you for advice, or do you get on the front foot and lead them through the crisis? The latter option wins every time. Phone your clients, use online meetings tools and email them with useful information. There are quite a number of hot topics – claiming government support, family budgeting, making savings, actions to take quickly in relation to your personal finances when you lose your job, managing income reduction. Now is the time to be proactive, like never before.
Of course this also applies to clients who are relatively untouched financially by the pandemic. While you can’t meet them currently, you can remain out in front of them. Remind them that these times will pass, that they need to sit tight and do the right things. Both the pandemic and the volatile markets will eventually pass.
The speed of the pandemic caught everyone off-guard, no-one was prepared. Jobs and income disappeared overnight, wreaking financial havoc for families and causing huge anxiety. Others have really struggled as the stock market plummeted. Some people are struggling to get out of the spin.
Now is your time to help them, by showing them the best path forward. You may help them make rational decisions about using emergency savings, seeking debt relief or by stopping them from trying to time the investment markets. Your cool head will help them to avoid compounding the impact of these external negative forces. Their situation is hard enough. Your expert advice can prevent them making it worse. Even reminding clients that these tough times will eventually pass adds value.
This is not a new role carried out by you, but one that may not be viewed as hugely valuable usually… Helping clients submit claims, access funds, draw down loans or negotiate debt relief may be the single most important aid you can give to clients at this point in time. Do this well with little fuss or drama, and your clients will remember this forever. Then when their financial situation improves, they will be back to you, seeking your advice in more positive circumstances.
As the days go on, we all unfortunately are hearing of more people that we know who have succumbed or lost loved ones to Covid-19. This is going to result in extremely sad and difficult conversations with clients or their families. Financial advisers add enormous value in these situations. Apart from assisting with life cover claims that can at least remove financial stress from the grieving process, you are also really well practiced in gently supporting and steering clients through these difficult times.
The current climate offers another wonderful opportunity for financial advisers to demonstrate the full breadth of skills that you possess. As usual, as a profession you will not be found wanting.