In Times of Volatility, See People, Not Just Their Portfolios
Hey, how are you doing? With the return of stock market volatility, an even better question is how are your clients doing?
It’s a simple question and one I’m certain was posed to countless clients in February. Probably more than ever, advisors appreciate and embrace their role as a behavioral coach—a role that encompasses not only portfolio management but also relationship management. Our new research clearly illustrates the importance of relationship management to clients and the imperative for advisors to adopt it.
Evolve beyond asset management
Our industry needs to continue to evolve beyond asset management as the sole basis for its value proposition. Yes, you can be an investment professional without being a professional investor. What’s the difference, you might ask? A professional investor might be defined as an advisor who believes that his or her clients are only concerned about their portfolios and, therefore, only contacts them about their portfolios. An investment professional sees the people, not just their portfolios.
This is an important distinction because holistic wealth management is most often broadly defined to include asset management, financial planning, tax and estate planning, insurance needs, and the like. The value of helping preserve and protect a client’s state of mind may be often overlooked, except by investment professionals.
Reinforce your value
So what can you do to allay your clients’ concerns and also reinforce the value of the relationship they have with you? Well, a “hey, how are you doing?” call is a great start. It shows them you think of them as a person and not just a portfolio. This is critical if you want to earn the highest degree of trust from your clients, since valuing clients, respecting them, and understanding their investment objectives and feelings are major contributors to clients’ trust. So what can you do to check all the boxes and, in the process, reinforce your value?
Try using our VALU framework for client conversations (see below). It may help them better understand your role in the relationship and your concerns for them as valued clients. In the end, you may not change anything in their portfolios, but hopefully you will have helped them better understand the advisor’s alpha you strive to provide.
Validate the financial plans you designed especially for them. While the headlines have changed, odds are clients’ objectives haven’t.
Assure them that uncertainty and volatility are normal. Let them know that you anticipated it, which is why you built their portfolio with an emphasis on asset allocation and diversification. These are the two most effective and widely available risk management tools, and you don’t have to pay more to benefit from them. Quite the bargain.
The cost-effective implementation of your portfolio strategy is one important way for you to potentially add value in the average client relationship. When investment returns are more modest than you expected over the longer run, the advantages of lower-cost and/or more tax-efficient funds and strategies become even more apparent.
Well, them. Remind your clients that successful investing often relies more on taming emotions than on taming the markets. In your partnership with clients, you excel at the role of the emotional circuit breaker who helps them when their emotions are in danger of overwhelming their reason. Emphasize to them that the reason they’re investing and the reason you’ve built their investment strategy is all about them—their goals and their aspirations.