The global market volatility resulting from the spread of COVID-19 is a great reminder of the importance of leading with financial planning.
During these unprecedented times, while many clients are worrying about the coronavirus, job security and the potential lasting effects on their portfolio; advisors can use financial planning to help calm their fears, put guardrails in place and restore confidence in their financial future for the long term.
Technology solutions are becoming even more powerful in achieving long-term financial confidence and goals. Virtual meetings are enabling advisors to keep in touch with clients and deliver much-needed advice. Lifelike interactive modules and planning tools are allowing advisors to walk clients through the expectations and concerns on the top of their worry list with a step-by-step approach.
Over the past month, we’ve [Envestnet MoneyGuide] seen a sizable increase in volume of our advisors proactively checking in with clients. These advisors have been offering some comfort to worried clients with the reminder that they have 24/7 access to their plan—with real-time updates—through our portal. These clients can view their financial big picture and access online interactive tools at any hour of the night.
During these virtual meetings, advisors have also seen an uptick in queries and discussions about tax planning strategies for a market downturn. It is no surprise that advisors and their clients are mostly focused on how to best protect long-term goals and retirement savings. There is renewed interest in learning about what a Roth IRA conversion would mean for a client’s overall plan.
Also amid this new market environment, more and more advisors have been turning to cutting-edge tools to perform detailed hypotheticals and run down a "what if" list with clients against factors outside their control—for example, the impact to a client’s plan in a bear market. Advisors using this type of digital solution can stress test a client's financial plan and provide a clear picture of the potential impact these types of events could have on their goals.
Software features like this give advisors the ability to virtually guide clients down a path to discovering their inner fears and exploring their lives in a new way.
How to help clients get more sleep
Of course, learning what keeps clients awake is only half the battle. What the best advisors do next is shift and adjust the client’s personalized plan in a way that puts their fears to rest.
It is no secret that there are plenty of tech solutions that can help with this part of the process. According to the latest survey from T3 Consulting Services, more than half (64%) of advisors rely on financial-planning software to provide a holistic offering to clients.
Of course, a financial plan is never “done” and should evolve as the client’s life evolves. And while technology will never replace human advice and the advisor-client relationship, finding a complementary technology solution can expand an advisor’s ability to create a more impactful plan and help clients achieve financial wellness.
Not to mention, when clients have 24/7 access to their plan, it helps to reinforce the “big picture.” This can keep them from becoming hyperfocused on daily fluctuations, which usually leads to losing sleep. (We have seen a lot of restless nights and concerned clients amid the recent market environment.)
Having virtual access to their plan, clients can quickly find that the day-to-day fluctuation in the market does not have a major effect on their long-term goals, if any.
As we all know, no one can control the market. But advisors can help clients stay calm in any market environment by building a robust financial plan that is optimized by tech solutions and data. This allows clients to feel confident in their financial decisions and live a satisfying life.
Tony Leal is president of Envestnet MoneyGuide. Tony has over 25 years' experience designing and implementing computer systems for client companies, and over 15 years' experience in designing, developing and supporting software systems in the financial services industry.