Managing client emotions

During difficult times, financial advisors face a particularly unique challenge. In addition to doing their normal job, which is to advise and counsel their clients, they’re now also expected to absorb their clients’ emotional reactions to the current crisis, which is usually out of everyone’s control. Many advisors and agents are simply not trained or equipped to deal with this role.

Here are a few tips that have helped me as an advisor and may help you.

Meet clients where they are
The most important thing is to check in with the client with the primary goal of listening.

It’s very important that the client knows they’re being heard. It’s best not to call a client to tell them what is happening or give your opinion about what may or may not happen. Your primary purpose in checking in with the client is to get a read on where they are and to listen.

Acknowledge their fear and feelings
One way to make sure that the client knows that they are being heard is for you to listen intently, take notes, and then to repeat back to them what you heard. This is called acknowledging. “I heard you; this is what you said.” By repeating back to them almost verbatim what they said, it confirms you really are listening and that you really heard them.

Validate their reaction to what’s happening
In addition to acknowledging their fear and their feelings, it’s important that you validate them by letting them know they are not alone in feeling this way. You may even confess that you yourself have felt fear and uncertainty. It’s normal. The more they know that what they’re feeling is normal and acceptable, the more they will feel comfortable they’re not alone and you are in the situation with them.

Living through a crisis isn’t easy. However, the sooner that you learn to adopt and implement the skills and these mindsets, the stronger and more confident you’ll become as an advisor, and the more solid and deep the relationships you have with your clients will become.

Steven Plewes is a 33-year MDRT member and Top of the Table qualifier from Naples, Florida.

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