The Greatest Challenge Any Client (and Therefore You) Will Ever Face
Sticking with the plan despite tough market conditions is the greatest challenge both you and your clients will face. That sudden drop in cabin pressure when the markets fall is the acid test of your relationship building skills. If you aren’t prepared ahead of time, neither will your clients be.
Whether your clients will stay the distance depends on you
Ask yourself: Do you wholeheartedly believe that the stock market will rise over the long term? Is it a valid wealth building device? Is it still the best deal?
To convince your clients that sticking with the plan is the right thing to do, you need to be able to communicate this with the utmost confidence.
When the inevitable happens, your clients will buy into you in direct proportion to your passion, belief and enthusiasm. If they sense doubt they will channel doubt. So, prepare your presentation well in advance so you’re ready to deliver it without hesitation.
History will repeat itself again and again
As Jason Butler writing in the Financial Times (UK) puts it: “The overall direction of global developed stock markets is a relentless and continual rise in value over the very long term, punctuated by regular and sometimes very significant falls”.
In general, stock markets are rising one-third of the time, falling another third of the time and recovering another third of the time. Markets will crash – so it’s a case of not when but by how much and over what time period.
Sometimes the markets will suffer bruising short-term losses. In 2008, portfolios fell to a fraction of their original value. You need to be prepared for such an eventuality – it could happen again.
It’s your job to counter your clients’ emotional responses
When a client tells you they’re agitated when the stock market falls and fear it will continue falling, they may want to sell their holdings and sit out market turbulence.
This is a purely emotional response. Academic research shows it’s emotions that have the biggest influence on investor behavior and decision-making. Research also shows we’re twice as sensitive to financial losses as we are to market gains. The pain of loss generally outweighs the pleasure of gain.
Illustrate to clients why staying the course is the right thing to do
In 2008, many investors were so driven by the pain of seeing their portfolio balances dive that many cashed in and moved their investments to the sidelines.
Unfortunately, this meant they then missed the subsequent rise beginning in March of 2009. Overall, they would have been far better off leaving their money where it was. This illustrates that market declines shake out the short-term people, they force short-termers to accept losses. Explain to your clients that’s a good thing for long-termers.
Get clients to understand that declines need to be seen in the context of their remaining lifetime. Declines are an unsettling, but necessary part of life.
Get clients to follow your lead
If you can get your clients to believe in capitalism and its ability to create wealth over the long term then both you and they can stop worrying about what you can’t control and focus on what you can control.
Excessive fears create excessive values so advise clients to ignore the doomsayers. Get them to listen to you and to follow your lead. Use your common sense, be patient and explain that one day your clients will feel ‘lucky’ to have stayed the course.
You can’t control markets – you can provide good advice
Clients rarely blame a meltdown on their advisors. If they’re upset, it’s usually because their advisors have lost touch with them. So, be proactive and get on the phone. They simply want to get back on stable ground, and feel secure about getting the kids through school. They need your help. You’re in the advice business, that’s what you bring to the table. You have a wisdom that is unique – it cannot be found on the internet.
It’s the landing that matters – not the bumpy ride
After a rough plane journey, what people remember most is the landing. The same applies to investing. Despite some inevitably tricky market conditions what your clients will remember is the end result – be it a comfortable retirement or enough money to pay their children’s school fees.
Watch this four-minute video and prepare your clients for the long-term nature of investing.
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