It’s inherent to an advisor’s job to care about the financial health of your clients. But what about their emotional well-being after experiencing a life altering event? An article from FinancialPlanning.com got our wheels spinning about this very topic.
It’s all in a day’s work to rollover a 401(k) after a job change, or offering solutions if a client is concerned about having enough put away for retirement. But what if, as the article ponders, a client has a newborn with a medical condition requiring a lifetime of expensive care? Or a grieving widow has no idea what to do after the unexpected passing of a spouse?
Bedside manner isn’t just for doctors. Recognizing when it’s time to put the numbers and data to the side and engage on a more personal level is something advisors learn from years of experience. The same way you advise clients making decisions that could affect their financial well being, you can also tell when there’s something more going on under the surface.
Most of these emotional events are a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for a client, but how many deaths, divorces, and other unfortunate aspects of life have you dealt with throughout your career? You not only have financial expertise, you also have an emotional advantage as well and a way to broach sensitive topics without coming across as callous or uncaring.
Guidance, Tips, And Advice
For those who may have difficulty in this area, Financial Planning spoke with the CEO of CorGenius (tagline: “Adding Heart To The Brains Of Business”) for some recomendations. Among her tips:
Stop Talking: Let the moment be about your client, and not yourself. If there’s been a recent death, an ongoing medical condition, or other change in their life, ask about it.
Expect Grief In Surprising Places: There could be a grieving period if a client loses a job or a child heads off to college. “The way you conduct a conversation and support your client will either reinforce a relationship or weaken it.”
Stay Focused On The Client: The same way you need to be a good listener, you should focus on your client’s feelings and not your own. Personal stories can be valuable when discussing investment strategies, but not so much when it comes to managing grief. “Using personal stories to sympathize with a grieving client can backfire...By trying to show you know how a client feels, you might (unintentionally) insult them.”
Some of these topics are difficult to discuss under any circumstances. It’s up to you to gauge whether or not a client wants to open up or if they’d prefer to stick to business. As the article says in its summation, the way you support a client during a difficult time “will define the type of advisor you are to your clients.”
Final Thoughts & Questions To Consider
Having to speak about death and hardship can take its toll on an advisor. While you might keep a calm, peaceful, and professional demeanor on the outside, simply put, it can get depressing. Here at Everplans we’re interested in capturing real voices and sound advice from experienced experts so we can help and educate other professionals and our platform users when it comes to managing difficult situations. If you can offer any insight into the following areas, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us:
- Does dealing with these issues get easier or more difficult over time?
- Do you ever speak with co-workers or colleagues in the industry about ways to manage difficult personal issues a client may be facing?
- What’s the one lesson you would pass on to younger advisors when dealing with a serious situation?
- Should you wait for client going through a difficult time bring up the issue, or is it the advisor’s place to initiate the conversation?