When markets are volatile, clients typically worry about losing money, and become anxious about falling short of their financial goals.
Although you might have discussed market behavior when onboarding your clients, it is natural for some of them to worry more than others, says Ahad Ali, portfolio analyst with Octane Capital in Toronto.
Your responsibility is to ensure that your clients are comfortable during periods of volatility. “They need to be reassured that their investments are on track to achieve their goals,” Ali says.
Here are five communication tips to keep clients from worrying when markets are volatile:
1. Make contact
“Reach out to clients before they contact you,” Ali says.
Based on your knowledge of your clients, you should know which ones are likely to worry more. You should attempt to contact them first. Ali recommends that you prepare key messages to address various client scenarios, adding that a “cookie cutter” approach does not work.
If you have a large client base, contacting each client individually can be time consuming. So, Ali advises, send an email to clients telling them that you will be in touch to discuss any concerns they might have. At all times, he says, make sure you take the initiative to contact your clients; otherwise, they could seek advice elsewhere.
2. Be upfront
Some clients worry unnecessarily, Ali says. “They get caught up with the noise on the television and in the newspapers,” he says. “Be upfront and tell them exactly what’s happening in the markets.”
Make sure you explain how market volatility could affect their investments. “Don’t sugarcoat anything,” he says. “Be honest. Clients become more confident when they know the truth.”
3. Remind clients that volatility is normal
Tell them of prior discussions you have had about risk and volatility, and that it is normal market behavior, Ali says. Explain that volatility is about normal market fluctuations.
“[Volatility] doesn’t necessarily mean that they are losing money,” Ali adds.
You might also discuss previous periods of market volatility and show how the markets have recovered from them.
4. Give reassurance
Tell your clients what you’re doing to keep their investments on track — even if that means telling them you’re not doing anything.
“Tell them that timing the markets simply does not work.”
Your goal is to reassure them that you are looking out for their best interests and that they are still on track to achieve their investment goals.
5. Invite clients for a portfolio review
Depending on the level of market volatility and how it might have affected certain investments, you might have to make changes to your clients’ portfolios.
“Invite them for a portfolio review and explain the changes you are proposing and their impact,” Ali says. Make sure they understand how the changes will benefit them.
See also: The “volatility” conversation
This is the first part in a two-part series on talking to clients during periods of market volatility.