The past couple of weeks have been pretty unique, haven’t they?
Can you remember a situation like this?
Sure, we all still have the scabs from 2007-2009, but this is different.
Unlike the financial crisis a decade ago, where a confluence of factors swelled up and an extended decline ensued, this one has occurred in the midst of what’s otherwise a very healthy economy.
Unemployment had been at record lows. Real estate prices were up. People were spending. Business was booming.
Then COVID-19 hit. And in less than three weeks, the S&P 500 has gone from record highs to a sell-off of 30% (and counting).
Clients are scared, anxious, stressed, fearful, and uncertain.
It doesn’t matter if your client has $50,000 in their portfolio or $10 million – they’re feeling emotional. Your goal is to help them avoid acting irrationally.
Calm Down: 5 Talking Points You Can Use With Your Clients
No matter how unprecedented this situation is, you – the advisor – are expected to have answers for your clients.
If you’re struggling for the right words, it’s helpful to focus on a few simple talking points. You’ll need to personalize your discussions with each client, but the basic truths remain the same.
Feel free to use these as scripts:
Talking Point #1: It’s Not Fun, But It’s Okay!
Client Says: I’ve lost [insert percentage point or dollar amount]! I’m starting to panic. What do I do?
Advisor Says: The amount of money you have in your accounts now is almost the same amount you had in your account this time a year ago. It’s the same! You were fine then and you’re going to be fine now.
A year ago, we were very happy with the amount of money you had. Yes, you’ve given back some of the gains, but that’s okay. It’s not fun, but it’s fine. Don’t panic!
(As simple as this vernacular is, it helps to cut through the emotion. It makes the client go, “Oh yeah!” or “Aha!” You don’t have to ignore losses, but it is helpful to reframe them. )
Talking Point #2: The Smart Money is Buying
Client Says: Should I be selling? It seems like everyone else is.
Advisor Says: Truthfully, not everyone is selling. It might look like they are, but that’s an illusion. The smart money is buying, while the vast majority of investors are holding. In other words, most of the market isn’t buying or selling.
Every time there’s a trade in the market, there’s always a buyer and there’s always a seller. They’re coming together to swap cash for a holding. Anything happening in the market is half-buyer and half-seller. Prices fall when someone wants to sell, but there aren’t enough buyers to buy what’s being sold. And because there must be equal buyers and sellers in the market, the selling price drops to what a buyer is willing to purchase it for.
The smart money is buying. Don’t be one of the sellers who gets exposed.
(This is just a simple lesson in economics and markets. You already know this, but you’re explaining it in plain terms to your clients so that they understand. And even if they don’t follow, it helps them see that you understand the big picture.)
Talking Point #3: Don’t Try to Time the Market
Client Says: I don’t want to get out of the market long-term, but I can’t stomach this over the short-term. I want to get out and wait until things have improved.
Advisor Says: Some bad things are happening to good companies at the moment. The companies in your portfolio are still good. And while there might still be some pain ahead, our stance is that there’s more pain behind us than in front of us.
A year from now, do you think the stock market will be better or worse? 99% of people believe it’s going to be better. What about six months from now? Most are still bullish. So while things might get worse over the next 60, 90, or 120 days – and we don’t know where the bottom is – we can feel confident that better days are ahead.
You don’t want to try and time the market. It’s not the news getting good that turns the market around – it’s the news getting “less bad” that turns the market around. If you wait 12 months from now, when the news is good, you’ll have missed out on the meatiest gains. Buy or hold, but don’t sell. The money you had in your account – you weren’t looking to spend it now anyway.
Talking Point #4: The Stimulus Package is Going to Kick In
Client Says: I keep hearing all of this talk about a trillion-dollar stimulus package that Washington is supposed to enact. Why isn’t it having any impact? Are we doomed for another nasty recession?
Advisor Says: People aren’t experiencing the effects yet because it hasn’t been put into action. And even after the package is enacted, it’ll take time. The money won’t be spent right away. But three or four months after the fact, there’s going to be a lot of pent up money that companies will want to spend. This is going to create a significant boom in the economy.
(You might not get this exact question, but this is still a talking point to keep in the back of your mind as you encourage people to stay the course.)
Talking Point #5: This is What You’re Paying Me For
Client Says: What do you mean we should hold and do nothing? Do you see my account? Why am I paying you to do nothing?
Advisor Says: Any time there’s an investment decision, you have three possible choices to make: buy, sell, or hold. The decision we’re making right now is to hold. So while it may seem less significant than buying or selling, it’s still a strategic action.
The reason we’re holding is that we’ve already done what we needed to do to prepare you for this. It’s not about what we need to do now – it’s about what we’ve already done to get you ready for this moment. You’re buying low, reinvesting dividends, accumulating more shares, etc. You’ve hired us to put you in the best position possible so that when the market recovers – and it eventually will – you reap the rewards. That’s the time to sell.
(Clients need to understand that account inactivity doesn’t mean you’re taking a nap. Preach the fact that you’ve worked your tail off over the last X-number of years. Now you’re watching and waiting for the next good move.)
Clear Talking Points Save Time
If you’re unprepared when you pick up the phone, answer an email, or meet with a client, you’re going to unnecessarily waste hours of your time every single day over the next few weeks and months.
Talking points like these save you time.
The hope is that, after explaining these things, your time on the phone goes way down. Talking points help you communicate a more concise message to more clients, thereby saving time and running a more efficient business.
Which talking point would you add to the list?