Communicating with Confidence During Political Turmoil
The looming US presidential election is already prompting investors and wealth managers to reshuffle portfolios. Another task is for clients not to let their own politics lead them to make bad investment decisions. To consider how wealth advisors ought to speak to clients in this period is Alana Kohl, president of AdvisorPR, a public relations firm that focuses on the financial advisory sector. The editors are pleased to share these insights and invite responses.
No matter what, some clients won’t be happy
No matter who wins the 2020 presidential election, roughly half of the population is not going to be happy. Excluding some factors like your geographic location or targeted niche, it’s likely your client base will fall under this split as well. Politics these days is emotional for many, and emotion can lead to rash decisions. As their trusted financial advisor, it’s on you to keep them calm and their emotions in check. It is vital that you are communicating with your clients now and regularly throughout the election and after, until the dust settles again. Here’s how.
Step One – Take the Temperature
If you don’t know already, you need to reach out to your clients to find out how they’re feeling about the economic environment and upcoming election. What are their individual concerns tied to the outcome of the election? You can call each one to check in, or you can create a survey for them to respond to individually. In nationwide surveys of investors and their view on the election, some see maintaining the current political leadership as a positive for the economy and markets while others see a continuation of the presidential office to have dire consequences for their financial future. Understanding the specific fears of your individual clients can help you to be a better communicator to them as the election cycle unfolds.
Step Two – Segment your Clients
There are going to be three mindsets that you will need to address; those who fear Trump will clench the nomination, those who fear Biden will win, and those who won’t be happy either way. Each type of client is going to need a different type of communication to feel confident in how you will manage their savings and investments going forward. By understanding which of your clients are scared or optimistic pending the results of the election, you’ll be able to better tailor your approach.
Step Three – Gain Clarity on Their Specific Concerns
What concerns are your clients most alarmed by? For example, high-income earners may be concerned with the proposed tax increases by Biden, while Biden supporters may be weary of a continuation in political and social unrest and its impact to the economy if Trump were to continue in office. Again, this will vary depending on your geographic location and client base, so it’s important to get this information straight from your clients versus any national polls. As you gather these concerns, create a comprehensive list under both the ‘Trump Wins’ scenario as well as the ‘Biden Wins’ scenario.
Step Four – Craft Your Responses
How will you respond to each client-types concern? It’s important that you develop messaging for how you would address each point, as well as to identify any potential action that should be considered to help ease those concerns. This may require some research on your end ahead of time so you have clarity on what proposed plans would mean to your clients overall financial situation. You can create a simple spread sheet with the columns Concern, Recommendation, and Action(s) in the header. There may be multiple actions that you would recommend they consider, or none at all. Even if there is no ‘action’ to take, your client would still need to know you’ve considered it. Simply document that you would need to follow up with the reassures that the planning you’ve done up to now has positioned them well, regardless of the outcome.
Step Five – Prepare for Both Outcomes
There are only two ways this can ultimately go, and you need to be prepared well in advance with how you’re going to help your clients cope. Equipped with the information from the exercises above, there are conversations you should be having now in preparation, and post-election. Prioritize addressing those who are going to be most concerned by the outcome first. Start now with creating the templates of your email communication to get to clients election night, and developing your game plan for who will need individualized communication per election outcome. This plan should include lists for both scenarios, identifying who you need to call, in what order, and what needs to be individually communicated. You as the trusted financial professional have the responsibility to talk them off the ledge before they make any dire financial decisions, and this is something you need to spend the time preparing for in advance.
Step Six – Prepare for the “Unexpected”
A ‘contested election’ has been discussed as an outcome we could likely see on the evening of November 3rd. The markets don’t like uncertainty, and your clients may become unnerved by any market volatility that would follow. Create a ‘plan B’ if we don’t have a clear direction for the country by the morning of the 4th. What do you clients need to hear then, what about on the 6th or 8th… How can you quell their concerns until a winner is declared? Having a game plan in place ahead of time will allow for you to respond quickly and powerfully, as needed.
Step Seven – Brush up on your ‘How to Become an Expat Knowledge’
We hear this every election but perhaps you’re in an area where people mean business. Regardless of the election, there will be an increase in people who will want to explore this option. If you can help, be sure to make that known, not only to clients who suggest it as an alternative, but to your greater community, too.
Crisis Communications 101
It’s a sad reality when a political election can constitute as a crisis for many, but that is the situation we find ourselves in today. The key in responding to a crisis successfully is preparation. By having your game plan in place for the various scenarios, you can be proactive, resourceful and reassuring. You’re demonstrating to your clients that you anticipated this and planned ahead. Coming from this position of power will instill confidence and trust with your clients. This too shall pass, the dust will settle and life will go on. Your #1 job right now is to protect your clients from themselves and not let them make any rash decisions that could negatively impact their financial future. (And oh, to brush up on your ‘retiring abroad’ knowledge!)
If you need help with creating a communications strategy or correlating communications materials, please call us. We can help to strategize, organize and develop your game plan so you can better lead your clients through the rest of 2020 and beyond with confidence.
Alana Kohl, founder and president of AdvisorPR, is an accomplished publicist, published author, brand strategist and trusted marketing consultant to financial service professionals and the corporate companies that serve them. To learn more about implementing our custom branding services for your financial firm, give us a call at (866) 888-5330.