The effects of the current economic recession can sometimes result in emotional problems for clients. People often take the events of the immediate past and extrapolate them into the future, and many clients are facing life-changing decisions as a result of the current financial crisis.
Financial advisors are not exempt from the potential for emotional turmoil. Faced with their clients’ concerns over the economy, many advisors experience mild to moderate anxiety, and in some cases, clinical depression. In March 2009, Investment News reported that “70 percent of 329 advisors said that the economic downturn and its effect on clients have negatively affected their physical and/or emotional health.” A CEO of a broker-dealer said that six of his firm’s top 10 advisors have been treated for clinical depression within the last 12 months. So how can advisors grow their practices while maintaining their personal sanity?
Advisors benefit from maintaining balance in their personal lives, staying in touch with their clients, sticking to the basics and focusing on the long haul. Many investment and insurance companies take a long-term approach. Advisors who thrive seem to take a back-to-basics approach, including client communication and new sales activity.
Advisors who continue to prospect are doing well and continue to grow their practices. For example, Brad Connors from Waseca, Minn., is a perennial sales leader with the Investment Centers of America Inc., a broker-dealer and registered investment advisor. “We are up over 2008, and adding new clients,&rdquo Connors says, adding that consistent client contact is necessary to sooth clients’ nerves, while also seeking to develop new relationships. “I’ve got to take care of my clients, but also need to keep finding new relationships that need my services,” he says.
Newer advisors can find success by focusing on making calls and keeping a long-term perspective. Earlier this year, Molly Montgomery Kloempken joined Northwestern Mutual Financial Network in Eagan, Minn. Kloempken hit her firm’s aggressive six-month sales goal for new clients in spite of the economy. “Individuals’ negative emotions are derived from their [short-term] fears,” she says. “We are overcoming those fears in the short term by helping manage the plan for the clients while transferring their thought process from the short term to the long term.”
At the same time advisors need to maintain their personal mental health. Dr. James Rafferty, a clinical psychologist from Dayton, Ohio, says, “We need to be able to differentiate between temporary problems and that which is really awful. Advisors and agents also need to have balance in their lives and have healthy distractions and outside interests.”
While there is no question these are difficult economic times, a focus on strong sales activity, excellent client service and communication, and work-life balance will help advisors and their clients weather difficult economic times.
Michael Roby is a sales and marketing strategist, and professional speaker based in Minnesota. He provides conference keynote presentations for financial-services distribution firms. His website is www.thestrategistandtheshrink.com.