Lockdown has been an interesting experience! I think that phrase is somewhat of an understatement, but the reality of lockdown has forced us to ask some big questions about how we live our lives and engage with, and in, the world – both personally and professionally.
As we have been forced to, and circumstances have given us the space to, utilise technology more/better (depending on your perspective!) and we have needed to engage with clients in a more human way, albeit not in-person, in addressing the real emotion and concerns of recent events, it has caused me to wonder whether I (maybe we) as planners expect too much from our clients.
Let me try to illustrate what I mean with two specific examples and, if we are all honest, see how many of us can relate.
Inevitably we all will have had some client conversations where there was an element of fear, concern, or upset due to the events, or consequences, surrounding COVID-19. Now, hear me out, I know the social media badge of honour, for our profession, is that we didn’t take ANY calls because OUR clients have been better informed and educated than that. However… I assume we all will have had one/some? How did you react when the email or the call came? Was your internal, as well as external, response, one of empathy and understanding? What about the second call from the same client… still empathetic and understanding? I was challenged, in one conversation, by being a little dismissive. Now, not with the client on the call but my internal response was “have we not already had this conversation”? Then it dawned on me… this is not their day to day life and experience. While we seek to prepare clients for the inevitable market volatility that they will experience, they do not read what we read; they do not speak to the same people that we speak to; or listen to the same podcasts that we listen to; they do not have Nick Murray books propping up the printer on their desk in easy reach for that crisis moment. Furthermore, this is not their job, and it is far from theoretical, as they look to us for reassurance and comfort, as they watch a sizeable dent in their life savings appear overnight. Do we expect too much from our clients?
The second example… with the use of technology, and not having to book time off work for some, or make a trip to the office for others, we have been able to deliver our advice process in a different and more modular way. This experience has made me wonder how on earth some clients have coped with marathon meetings to cram a please-bear-your-soul type chat, with a facts and figures chat, alongside a bet-the-house-risk chat, and a conceptual conversation about the nuts and bolts of financial advice and products chat! I’m exhausted just typing that! Seriously, though, when we are trying to deliver the best service it will always require as comprehensive a process as possible to make sure we can help our clients make progress towards the things that really matter to them. On reflection, my being exercised by short responses to certain questions after 2.5 hours of discussion, is now in the shadow of the question – do we expect too much from our clients?
I love this community; a like-minded band of people seeking to create change and impact in our client’s lives through great financial planning. Maybe a sense check, from time to time, to make sure that outcome and process are the right way around and connected as they should be is no bad thing… thanks, Rona!