In addition to looking to you as their trusted financial advisor, clients may also view you as a confidant. Naturally, you feel more comfortable giving financial advice than personal advice, and conversations about emotions may not develop naturally. In many cases, clients may choose to appear calm instead of bringing up their personal lives.
But these aren’t reasons to ignore the fact that your client may be in a difficult situation. Hard times can lead clients to make bad decisions, damaging your working relationship. If you can go the extra mile to see your clients more holistically, you can show your care and deepen your relationship of trust with your client.
There are lots of reasons that clients may need additional support:
- The financial sector can be volatile! Clients may rely on you through the wild swings of the marketplace.
- Your clients’ financial situations are both personal and sensitive and are subject to sudden life changes. As an advisor, you are privy to private and sensitive information. If there are changes in their lives, those changes may affect financial decisions as well.
- The financial sector can be very confusing. Clients may feel overwhelmed by all that there is to learn and lean on your expertise to sort it all out.
Maintain your professionalism and keep delivering sound financial advice, but you may also need to increase your sensitivity, empathy, and active listening. If your clients are feeling anxious as the market declines—or if they are experiencing tough personal times—your care and compassion will be more important than ever.
Do Financial Advisors Need to Get Involved?
After all, you’re a financial advisor and not a therapist. True, but when clients are worried about their finances or are experiencing “big” life events, their anxiety and stress may lead them to make poor financial decisions.
Some of these changes include job loss, divorce, a death in the family, a medical crisis, or other major life change. Whether or not clients bring up their issues first, you should know how to recognize an issue and be sensitive enough to offer support if needed. That way, you can help them make sound financial decisions through their crisis.
How To Assist Clients Through a Crisis:
When you realize that a client is going through something difficult, it’s time to put aside numbers and engage more personally. Here are some ways to approach difficult topics with care.
- Listen: You cannot understand what’s going on unless you hear what your client has to say. Encourage your client to open up as needed. Let them know that you are there for them, and then take the time to listen. If there is a little bit of silence, remember that you don’t need to fill it up. Listening demonstrates that you care and take an interest.
- Ask Questions: Let your client know that you have no interest in prying, but that you need to know what’s going on so that you can help guide them with pertinent financial advice during this period. If a client has a difficult time opening up, you can ask them gently if they would like to talk about their situation. Avoid asking overly personal or probing questions.
- Express Validation: Show that you have listened by following up. Tell them that you understand, thank them for opening up, and validate their experience. If pertinent, feel free to share a similar experience that you have gone through.
- Be Encouraging: While it may not be the right time for the client to be thinking about the future, you can keep an eye on the future for them. When the time comes, discuss long and short-term goals. Stay optimistic and remind and encourage your clients that they can be confident in the future. Assure them that you will be right there with them. Review their plan and make adjustments.
As a financial advisor, you are there to help your clients through their financial life. Help them focus on what they can control and know that you are an advisor that they can trust with changes and difficulties in their lives.
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