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The Way to Lead Clients Right Now (and Always): With Active Empathy

by The Seven Team

The past several months have proven to be devastating for many across the country. People of all backgrounds across the nation are struggling to find solid ground, have their voice heard, and navigate these times – both emotionally and financially.

We often talk about empathy with Seven clients – and generally tell advisors that, before you build any communications plan, you should sit down with your clients and discuss their needs, understand their feelings, and document their requirements to help create your plan.

Times of crisis are no different. In fact, in times of uncertainty, the need for active empathy is more important than ever. The concept of active empathy comes down to ownership and proactiveness – it’s empathy rooted in action. It’s like a muscle that needs to become stronger – deploying it once or twice may help in the short term, but it needs to be activated over-time in order to have an impact.

Whether you have a client approaching retirement, a community that needs financial literacy programs, or younger clients struggling to make sense of it all – there are a few things you can do to lead during this time.

1. Reach Out and Listen

Yes, this sounds like fluff, but it’s something that can differentiate your service as an advisor. At the end of the day, leading your clients starts with listening. Now is a good time to check in with all of your clients, in a meeting or over a Zoom call. The key is to allow them to express any concerns they have across their financial picture and beyond to show them you’re actively listening. One way to do this? Mirroring.

Mirroring is the behavior in which one person unconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another1. The concept of mirroring has been made famous across sales functions, because it works – it allows you to build rapport with clients. Mirroring also plays a key role in our ability to empathize with others. Using this method, while actively listening, can enable a better connection with clients, allowing you to uncover concerns they may be facing, but not expressing. This in result, will allow you to better serve their financial needs.

2. Be Fully Present, Even Digitally

 With all of us telecommuting over the past three months, we’ve been stuck to our computers and the Zoom fatigue is prominent. Yes, Zoom fatigue is a thing. It thrives off long, drawn out, unnecessary conversations. This is why it’s incredibly important to be fully present in your conversations with clients, because they’ve likely had rounds of other digital conversations throughout the week that can easily exhaust and frustrate. The best ways to do keep the conversation running smooth? Shut down the email, turn your phone on silent, and create itineraries for each discussion. Itineraries are especially important for remote meetings – they allow the conversation to run more smoothly when we’re more easily distracted and ensure the client leaves every conversation with actionable items.

3. Stay in Front of the Conversation

Markets are moving fast, the news cycle is moving at Mach speed. As an advisor, staying in front of the conversation is important, and sometimes crucial to client satisfaction (and client impulse moves). We’ve had advisors who focus weekly communications with clients not only see new asset gains, but receive incredible feedback from clients. While your clients may not want to hear from you on a weekly basis, it pays to stay in front of the conversation. Your opinion on economic and market conditions can help clients navigate daily decisions on how to spend, invest, and shift goals. Keep it short, keep it frequent, keep it valuable – but aim to set a consistent cadence of communication (email or otherwise) with your clients and more engaged prospects.

The Bottom Line

The state of the world is uneasy and uncertain. We as a society need to work together to build a stronger, safer nation for everyone. As advisors, you have the opportunity to lead your clients through more than just their portfolio allocation. Across life events and macro events, clients are looking for guidance – and you have the opportunity to guide during these moments. Create an active communication plan that allows you to build rapport, create stickiness, and change the narrative.

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