Have you ever wondered how to help angry clients move forward?

When times are uncertain, you can use these 6 strategies to put your clients at ease.

For financial Advisors, when the markets jump and sink from one day to the next—and world events make for uneasy times—mere disappointment can flare into rage at the drop of a few hundred points on the TSX/Dow. Many clients may satisfy their fury with a few jabs about finding a new advisor—one who won’t lose them money!! Others may go for a full knockout, aiming their anger at you, your company, market economics, the media, portfolio managers, and anyone else they think might be responsible for their suddenly dwindling investment portfolio.

1) Encourage communication

Joe F., Financial Advisor, Vancouver: “I wish I could call all of my 600 clients once a month to reassure them—and especially to combat the influence of the media, which get so many worked up over one false alarm or another. Given my time constraints, I instead encourage my clients to call me as often as they like, even if it’s only to check in. If clients feel free to call when they’re merely nervous, I can keep anxiety from escalating into anger.”

2) Establish expectations

Interestingly, top financial advisors prescribe liberal doses of preventive medicine—in the form of education—to reduce bouts of client anger down the line. By explaining the rules of the investment game, using an IPS and bullet proof KYC and explaining that returns will vary, that darts sometimes outperform pros, and above all that you will be doing the very best you can for them—you set up realistic expectations and give clients less reason to be angry when the markets go against them. Top financial advisors regularly reiterate this message through newsletters and in every conversation they have with clients; some years they’ll earn more, some less. Many clients are comparing their portfolios to last year’s highs rather than to where they were when they first started investing or where they thought they would be by now. They’re looking at the wrong number. Stock prices never should have gotten that high in the first place, is what the top producers remind their clients.

3) Acknowledge their feelings

Financial advisors can take a tip from business coaches: Listen. Let clients talk about what’s bothering them. Don’t ignore or minimize their feelings. Even irrational feelings must be aired in order to get past them. At the same time, let clients know that what is happening to them is happening to everyone and that their feelings are perfectly normal. As you’re doing this, do NOT become defensive. Listening to clients rant does not mean you are accepting their blame. And if the ranting goes on too long, I suggest setting boundaries by saying something like, “I understand you’re upset right now, but the way you’re directing it toward me feels disrespectful. Let’s discuss this at a time when we’re both feeling calmer.”

4) Suggest solutions

After clients finish expressing their anger, shift into a problem-solving mode. Has their risk tolerance changed such that you should make some serious portfolio modifications? Or do they simply need to be reassured that the worst is probably over and that their portfolio is positioned properly as is? Clients look at their portfolio as if it were fresh money: should it stay where it is or be moved? In the case of stocks that have gotten hammered, I would suggest that today’s prices are likely to look very attractive a year from now and would recommend keeping them or buying more. After discussing practical portfolio matters, also talk about the anger itself. What can each of you do to keep this from happening again? Perhaps the client would be encouraged to turn off CNBC, BNN and only check stock prices once a month if you promise to call whenever his portfolio needs serious attention.

5) Reinforce your professionalism

It’s the newer clients who tend to become nervous and angry over portfolio fluctuations. Older clients have heard the buy-and-hold, invest-for-the-long-term, don’t-expect-more-than-8% message enough times that they rarely become concerned about market movements. You must develop a system designed to remind newer clients that over time the buy-and-hold method works. Newer Financial Advisors, who may not boast such a long and successful career, can emphasize the longevity and professionalism of their firms.

6) Get rid of abusive clients

While parrying client anger may be part of the job from time to time, persistently abusive clients need not be tolerated. When anger turns to abuse, it’s time to lose the client. Many top financial advisors also decline to work with new clients who blame their losses on a former advisor or come saying they “just want to get back to even. These are danger signs that foretell a no-win situation. Clearly, anger prevention is the best strategy to use when working with clients. If you consistently provide your clients with education, empathetic listening and supportive communication, chances are you won’t have to handle too many angry outbursts.

What you have read above will help you and those around you succeed, to find business success!

Larry LaRose is the President and Co-Founder of PNL Coaching, a firm dedicated to training and coaching. We can be found online here: www.pnlcoaching.expert

For more topics, please visit our blog here: http://pnlcoaching.expert/blog/

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