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6 Tips for Stress Testing Your Practice in Lousy Markets

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No matter how you frame it, the markets have been lousy.

Bull, bear or agnostic…the turbulence has been unsettling.

For your clients, your team and YOU!

And no matter how well you’ve positioned your portfolios or risk-adjusted your allocations…you need to do some stress-testing.

How are your models holding up?

How is your team handling increased call volumes?

Are your clients well-informed?

Do your prospects need to hear from you?

When markets do an about face…temporary or protracted…you cannot forget that the work you do with your clients is a critical element of the financial landscape.

As an elite advisor, you need to dig-in deeper by showing leadership and confidence.

Here are 6 tips for giving your practice a quick review…

1. Find the right balance for client contact.  Conduct a quick review of your ongoing communication strategies. Do you need to make any adjustments?

Should you ramp it up? Should you dial it back?

If you run a low-touch practice (intentionally or unintentionally), too much additional communication could exacerbate client concerns. You could turn concern into panic. Don’t start sending rapid-fire emails or making extra calls without a plan.

Script your messages. Relate the current market to your long-term strategy.

If you run a high-touch practice, too little communication may show a lack of confidence. Your clients will expect to hear from you more often.

But how much is too much?

Look at your regular communication intervals. If you call your clients once per month, you may want to call them each two weeks. If you send a bi-weekly email, change to weekly.

As above…script your messages. Tie the here and now to the long-term view.

In all cases, balance comes from keeping it personal.

2.  Offer to advise your clients’ friends and family.  This is a great way to relieve stress and show that you’re willing to go the extra mile.

By virtue of their success, many of your clients are being asked for financial advice. You may have helped them achieve this “advice giving” status.

Unfortunately, this can put them in the uncomfortable position of offering advice in emotion-filled times.  This can be stressful.

Send them a letter or an email offering your assistance. They’ll appreciate the help.

And they may even send you a few referrals.

3.  Show confidence in your team.  Be aware of the way recent events are affecting your teammates. They may not have the same perspective as you. Their stress could impact the way they interact with your clients.

Do they have compensation or job security concerns?  How is the market meltdown impacting their personal circumstances?

Take the time to offer your teammates support and reassurance.

The confidence you display in your team will be echoed in their contacts with clients and prospects.

4.  Add more active management to your clients’ portfolios.  This is NOT a recommendation to make changes for the sake of change alone.  But your clients need to know that you’re on the job.

They want to know how you’ll respond.

What opportunities does the current environment provide?

Will you be improving quality? Adjusting allocations? Reducing risk? Managing tax considerations?

These topics could be part of your scripted communication (see #1 above).

5.  Take care of yourself by controlling your time and attention.  You cannot be on duty 24/7. It’s too easy to leave the business news running non-stop.

Now, maybe more than ever, you need to take care of yourself.

Limit the time you spend at work.

Don’t forget your friends, family and favorite pastimes.

When you’re in the office stay focused. When you’re away from the office concentrate on the other important things that deserve your time and attention.

6.  Treat your best prospects and connections as if they’re already clients.  Don’t lose sight of the current opportunities to grow your business.

Your future clients want to hear from you.

They have questions similar to your current clients.  And you may be able to offer more assurance than their current advisors. Give your prospects and connections the same type of attention you’re giving your clients.

During lousy markets, the opportunity to add new assets and new relationships will grow.

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