We’re all deeply concerned these days, and understandably so. Worries about what impact the coronavirus will have on our families, friends and livelihoods permeate communities worldwide. Amid unprecedented government containment measures and a stock market wracked by historic volatility, primarily downward, we all wonder what will happen next and when this global crisis will finally pass.

From an economic standpoint, many investors are feeling unnerved and even the most long-term-minded among us can’t help but double-check our portfolio allocation strategies. No one knows the depths to which this virus will drive major market indices, but one thing is certain: Financial advisers can make or break their client relationships by how they respond in times like these. Assert your role deftly and you can earn lifelong clients — who will also tell their friends about you. Alternatively, fumble the situation by underestimating the impact or level of concern and you’ll see clients head for the exits as they look for something better.

Achieving life goals

In the big picture, volatility can be seen as a long-term marketing opportunity for RIA firms. Let me explain. Most people hire a financial adviser because they have a life goal in mind. Maybe they want to save and invest enough to eventually retire. Or perhaps they seek sufficient financial flexibility to buy a dream home or take the vacation of a lifetime.

But there is something that drives them to hire an adviser — the desire to make the most of their finances. This action comes with an inherent belief that with the adviser, their likelihood of achieving that goal increases. The actual benefit can generally be separated into three parts: (1) Identifying the goals and creating a plan to achieve them, (2) executing the financial tasks to work toward those goals and (3) lastly but perhaps most importantly, serving as a coach/guide/sounding board when life’s questions get asked or unforeseen events shake the client’s confidence in the plan and its execution.

Item number three on that list can be a catalyst for marketing. It isn’t about sending a message or email to your client that says, “Hey, the markets are down 25% but good news — you’re only down 10%!” An approach like that quickly reduces the adviser’s value to how he or she handles a client’s portfolio.

Rather, a quality conversation might start like, “Hi Tracy, I know you were talking about selling some of your holdings to pay for your daughter’s wedding this summer. We’re all watching the market volatility and I think there’s a different approach we should consider.” Another possibility is, “Hey Jim, I remember our last chat about you putting in for retirement this summer. I checked in on your situation and it looks like you can keep that timing if we adjust one or two things.”

Making it personal

Focusing on personal aspects during difficult times not only benefits your current client relationships, but makes you all the more referable. Inevitably, there will be friends, family members or colleagues of your clients who aren’t getting the help they need. Your firm can fill that void by making a great client experience the leading edge of your marketing effort.

Additionally, RIA firms need to identify strategies to project their thought leadership, credibility and attunement to their clients’ financial life goals. Take a look at this recent video post on Gregory FCA client United Capital’s LinkedIn page. Kara Murphy, the firm’s chief investment officer, addresses the market conditions from an empathetic and thoughtful perspective. The aims here were to assure their clients they were paying attention and to inject some perspective to avoid fearful overreactions.

Mariann Montagne, portfolio manager for our client Gradient Investments, took to CNBC’s airwaves earlier this month to inject her own voice of reason after the markets had started to show signs of distress. In an instance like this, instead of laying low, the proactive “We’re on top of it” approach can make all the difference in the world for uneasy investors. Not to mention, seeing their adviser on TV could help get many people thinking positively.

Here at Gregory FCA, we’ve been working with wealth management industry firms for close to 20 years. During that time, we’ve seen robust markets and total busts. In every environment, there are firms that win and firms that lose. It’s our job to help clients take advantage of the opportunities that can present themselves with disruption.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team if you’d like help reaching your clients and prospects in the current craziness or if you more generally want to improve your marketing communications, cultivate your media profile and turn today’s turmoil into a better tomorrow. We wish you, your families, friends and businesses good health during this difficult and concerning time for all of us.