Businesswoman using laptop in office

As promised, this is the second instalment of Ellen’s Positive Notes, a weekly column I designed to lighten the mood during these difficult times and provide you with helpful tools.

In my first column, I urged you to call each of your clients and gave you a list of topics to discuss with them. This column will help prepare you for the second call with each client.

You will want to prepare a schedule so you can keep checking in with clients regularly, starting with those you know are alone. Here is how to prepare yourself and what to discuss during your second call.

Preparing yourself:

  1. Take care of yourself first. Make sure your frame of mind is positive and clear.
  2. If you need to take a walk outside or sit on your balcony in the fresh air, or just open a window to get some air, do it. Spring has sprung, so breathe it in!
  3. Check in with yourself to determine whether you are feeling fearful or faithful. It is really hard to have faith in the situation we are in right now, but convince yourself — as I have — that there is no benefit to panicking or being fearful. We need to take things one minute at a time, prepare ourselves and move forward.

Now that you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s time to call your clients. Here are some suggestions for each call.

1. Take notes. If someone shares a concern about something personal or the markets, you can follow up to see how they are doing with those specific concerns. For example, if your middle-aged client told you last week that her children were at university and they had to fly home, ask her if her children arrived home safely. If you do not take notes, it will be impossible to remember each person’s story.

2. Ask questions. Some of the clients you call will be living alone or with others they are trying to be strong for. They may not have anyone to express their fears to. Your role through this second call is to ask them questions. Don’t interrupt — let them talk.

3. Listen for your clients’ underlying stresses. Are they worried about their own health or the health of their loved ones? Are they concerned they will not make mortgage payments? Are they concerned about the account they hold with you? A successful call is one in which your client does almost all of the talking and you listen for both content and emotion.

4. If your client is talking about their account:

  • If they just express concern, listen and take notes.
  • If they ask you questions, don’t give them any guarantees. Tell them if history repeats itself, which we cannot know right now, markets will rebound.
  • Be very careful to make notes of what your clients ask and what you answer.

5. Calm your client’s nerves by saying:

  • “We are all in the same boat all over the world, and we will survive all of this.”
  • “The next few weeks could be rocky, but we are in this together.”
  • “I’m here for you and you can call any time.”
  • “We are in the thick of things now, but one day we will look back and say, ‘Oh my gosh, that was horrible. I’m so glad it’s behind us.’”

In my next columns, I will discuss listening for emotions and whether to update a know-your-client form when we are in this crazy time.

Those reading this column should know, I am here for you and more content is coming to help you. Until then, remember: there is no benefit to ourselves or others to panic or allow fear to overcome us. Have faith, please.