The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted every organization and each of our lives in unexpected ways. For families, governments and businesses, managing stress and confronting uncertainty has been complex and perhaps overwhelming. As advisors, you have an opportunity to support your clients during this period of disruption in powerful ways. They look to you for guidance and leadership. Being a steady trusted advisor able to listen well and communicate that you care about clients and their families is more important than ever. Supporting them to manage stress and uncertainty at this time is an essential way you can add value.
To help clients through this stressful period, you may have to first acknowledge your own level of stress and come to terms with it, so you’re more balanced. We often say, “action comes from mood.” Effective action happens when you’re in an effective mood. If you’re in a mood of despair, you’ll have a harder time listening for possibilities. A mood of anxiety about future threats may keep you tense and narrowly focused. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious and distracted, you won’t be able to listen or see new possibilities for your clients. Ask yourself, how are you personally dealing with the anxiety and uncertainty you may be feeling? How are you dealing with the anxiety your clients are feeling?
By learning to shift your own mood, you may be able to see new offers you can make or ask different kinds of questions that allow you to engage with the uncertainty of this new reality in very powerful ways.
Steps to Take
Consider these steps:
- Accept: Take a breath and accept the new reality of how business may be different for a while. Grieve the loss of how things used to be, or even money lost.
- Be grateful: Take another breath and allow what you’re grateful for to settle your body. Reflect on all the people who’ve helped you become who you are. Think all the way back to when you were very young and consider the people who have been instrumental to who you’ve become. Write a few of them down to allow yourself to pause long enough to really let it in. You’ll know your mood is shifting when you begin to feel yourself softening.
- Innovate: Look for the possibilities that emerge in times of uncertainty. Are there new offers you can make? Perhaps it’s taking another look at certain sectors that weren’t part of the portfolio before or simply calling your clients to get to know them better without an agenda.
Questions for Clients
Ask questions like:
- How’s the family getting along?
- Have you created any new family routines?
- What’s possible in this new frontier of possibilities?
- What’s the worst-case scenario?
- What do you think will actually happen?
- Would you like to hear my perspective?
- What actions do you see you can take now to prepare for the future?
Conversations About Wealth Transfer
COVID-19 carries the clear warning to get transition plans in order. Estate plans and succession plans take care of assets, which is half of the equation. With many family members sheltering in place, this is also a good time for them to have the meaningful and important conversations about wealth transfer. The pandemic reminds us all of what is truly important: our family members and our relationship to them.
Amy Castoro is CEO and president of The Williams Group.