So we are in the midst of a pandemic. Certainly the likes of which has not been seen before. As well as the obvious financial challenges that go along with this, the biggest challenge to overcome in this environment is fear - of our very mortality.
This puts each of us under more pressure, with more fear around what is happening in both the world and to our economy, more than any other crisis we have seen - at least in my lifetime.
There are so many unknowns at this time - and one of the biggest unknowns is what will be the lasting impact on markets, and to our economy. There is a lot of fear for so many of us - which makes watching losses in both our super and our investments even harder than normal, when trying to keep everything together.
This is where I see the biggest challenge yet, for advisers. To be able to keep a cool head, counsel clients in time of extreme stress and panic, and give clear and consistent communication when you too are under pressure.
It’s hard when advisers don’t have all the answers - nobody knows when this pandemic will end, when a vaccine will be made available, and how quickly markets will rebound. But advisers do know one thing - crystallising losses at times like these, by pulling money out of the market, will most likely do more harm than good in the long term.
Talking long term and level heads in times of crisis can be hard work - and advisers have a lot on their plate already. But there is nobody that is going to do a better job to keep people calm about their money, than financial advisers and their underlying super funds.
Advisers have a trust level with your clients that the media or commentators do not have. Which is why it is critical as a financial planner, whether independent or part of a larger business, to take up this challenge and start to communicate on a regular basis to your client base, perhaps in a way you never have before.
Video updates (they can be done on an iPhone, don’t stress about production values), blogs, social media updates and articles on your website - if you cannot call each of your clients individually (or at least your top ones) make sure that you are communicating your views and your counsel around longer term outcomes. Once is not enough.
With the media whipping us all into a frenzy, and people at home and isolated when we are by nature social creatures, we need new forms of contact.
At this time we all need more communication, more counsel and more reassurance that it will be okay.
As always advisers, I remind you of how important you are - both in times of crisis, as well as every day; to help Australians get a better outcome for their retirement.
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