It’s important to know what you’re being paid for, especially when times are tough. I believe that now, more than ever, your primary obligation to me as a client is to pay attention. I’m paying you to pay attention to me. It’s how you demonstrate that I matter.
You are not being paid to be a weatherman or a miracle worker. You don’t have to tell me what you think is going to happen next. You don’t have to make it all go away. Just touch base to see how I’m doing. Remind me of how wise investors behave in a market such as this.
A bear market is always a bull market for strengthening relationships, if you are paying attention. You know a lot of advisors at this moment who don’t know what to say to their clients. An opportunity lies in simply asking clients how they feel — and listening.
I have talked to many frustrated and exhausted advisors in the last few weeks of market turmoil. I’m hearing statements like “I don’t know what to tell my clients because I’m not getting the answers I need,” and “What can I say that is going to matter when things look as bad as this?”
I think these advisors are missing the central point. You don’t need to have all the answers. There are people on Wall Street who are struggling to explain what’s going on. You don’t have to make everything right. You just need to be there for your clients. Ask them how they are doing and bring some sanity and calm to the conversation.
You are sowing the seeds for a lasting relationship.
I recently received a statement from a firm that was managing some of my assets. It notified me that one of companies I was holding had filed for bankruptcy. I immediately thought of the representative of this firm who recommended this stock so highly and touted his firm’s research on their prospects two years before.
Where was this representative now?
Where was the phone call when the first signs of trouble appeared? I understand things can take a turn for the worse and that I may have to sell at a loss. But I had no such opportunity because someone failed to pay attention … to me.
I moved my accounts to my other advisor — the one who calls when things aren’t going well and talks me through it.
True advisors pay attention most when times are rough. Sales people pay attention most when times are good because they want to use market momentum to get more deals done.
I’m long on advisors who pay attention and act as a calming influence in their clients’ lives. I’m short on salespeople. I can’t afford to work with people who don’t pay attention.
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