Couple getting financial retirement advice from consultant at home

Stock markets have now entered volatile territory as we’ve seen more than a handful of single-day stock market swings of 200 points or more in recent weeks. That has many Canadians feeling uncertain about their futures — and it underscores the need for advice from professional financial planners.

We know from research commissioned by Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) that Canadians are worried about their finances — even at the best of economic times. In fact, many Canadians report that money is their greatest source of stress — beyond even their personal health — leading to loss of sleep and other negative effects on their overall well-being.

When drastic market volatility is added into the mix, that can trigger even greater levels of stress and anxiety. Canadians have their own unique aspirations, and when they see their account balance trending lower, it can make those aspirations seem further out of reach; or worse, trigger a knee-jerk response that they may regret in the long term.

At moments like these, Canadians need the counsel and guidance of professional financial planners who see their clients’ entire financial picture and are uniquely positioned to help clients keep things in perspective at times when markets are declining. Clients’ financial situations, viewed through a holistic lens, afford professional financial planners an opportunity to reassure clients that their goals are still within reach despite temporary market instability and to demonstrate how their financial plan can withstand temporary market fluctuations.

Beyond the technical aspects of financial planning that are instrumental in helping clients navigate uncertain times, professional financial planners also must be equipped with the more intangible skills needed to help clients remain calm during periods of turbulence and steer their financial ship through such inevitable storms.

For a professional financial planner, this means having the communication skills and behavioural insights needed to develop a comprehensive understanding of each client’s goals, fears and motivations, along with strong professional judgment. These qualities, coupled with unwavering ethics, ensure that professional planners have the knowledge, skills and abilites to support their clients at different stages of the relationship, but most importantly in periods of volatility. That separates the human professional planner clearly from pure robo-advice and digital tools available to consumers today.

Although volatile and unpredictable markets can make for difficult conversations with nervous clients, they present an opportunity for professional financial planners to demonstrate this distinct value. As a professional, the financial planner’s role extends far beyond helping clients draft a financial plan. Clients rely on the financial planner’s expertise not only to help build the plan that will offer them confidence in their financial future, but also to be a voice of reason in times of uncertainty or emotional distress.

Given these times of highly volatile markets, many Canadians are likely more confused than ever about what to do as they try to figure out how they can take control over their financial situation. For those clients who already have a professional financial planner, they’ll be looking for counsel on what these market swings mean for their financial plan, and how they can stay on track to reach their financial goals.

For the myriad other Canadians without a financial plan — and those who have chosen to take a do-it-yourself approach to their finances — this may be the wakeup call they need to seek out a professional planner to help guide them.