By Ian Harvey
I remember two distinct events in 2016 which have helped me prepare for the current events in which we find ourselves.
Throughout the year, the United States was in the midst of our presidential election process ranging from primary races through the general election in November. In June, the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union through a country wide referendum.
Immediately following both instances, my colleagues and I found ourselves in the office early the next day preparing for the flurry of calls we expected from concerned clients. At the same time, we were personally dealing with the news and how it may impact us as individuals.
In stressful times it is important we as advisors are prepared to properly show up for our clients. Three ways we can prepare are as follows: arming ourselves with information, understanding the history of our business and its intricacies, and taking care of our own needs.
Arm ourselves with information:
One of the most important lessons I learned at Virginia Tech is: data becomes information when the data is in context. In the age of information, we are used to searching for data, comparing sources, and putting data into context to form our own opinions. Years ago, I recognized the importance of not only forming my own opinions, but also searching for context to understand the perspective of those who form different opinions with the same data.
As advisors, our goal should be to understand as much information as possible, from as many sides as possible, to hopefully better understand our client’s perspective. How might clients think about current events? What are they reading and taking in?
Answering such questions for ourselves will help us gain a deeper perspective, with which we can more readily respond to notable moments as they occur.
Know your history:
Of course perspective without an understanding of history can be short-sighted. In times of stress our clients will look to our experience and understanding of the history of financial systems to provide much needed context to the data they are reading, listening to in podcasts, or watching on television.
In today’s world we have the opportunity to more easily become students of our history both domestic and abroad, to understand the impact of historical events, and to translate history’s lessons into today’s fast paced news cycle.
I have previously written about the lessons Ben Bernanke took from the Great Depression in his response to the financial crisis of 2008. Similarly, our clients will expect us as advisors to learn lessons from previous generations and apply those lessons to their financial decisions in the current environment.
Last but certainly not least, in order to show up for our clients we must show up for ourselves by finding ways to take care of our physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Our day to day job requires us to make space for our clients in the midst of challenging times for all. If we are not prepared to make such space, we will limit our ability to truly meet clients where they need us to meet them.
Of course this is nothing new: eat well, sleep well, and find time to refresh your mind. For some this means going for a walk or a run in the morning. For others, this means time alone to read or meditate. However you show up for yourself, I encourage you to make the space to do so and your clients will be better served.
On many fronts the year 2020 has been more eventful than 2016 and we have all experienced deep pangs of stress at one moment or another, if not month to month. For some advisors, concerned client’s have seemingly called every week wondering if they are simply going to be OK.
Our mandate is to not only be able to assure clients of security but to empathize with, and find ways to assuage, their real, understandable concerns on the path to financial success.
Originally from the Jersey Shore, Ian lives in Manhattan. A graduate of the Financial Planning program at Virginia Tech, he earned his CFP® in 2014 and has always operated as a fiduciary advisor for clients. He co-founded the Financial Planning Association’s (FPA) Student Chapter at Virginia Tech, which grew to be the largest student organization in the country in its first year.
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