Saying the Right Thing in Down Markets

Here’s how advisors are easing clients’ fears and using video to efficiently spread these messages.

By Laura Garfield

How hard is your job when the markets are reaching record highs week after week? You don’t have to be the Patrick Mahomes of financial planning to look like a superstar advisor. It’s when the economy takes a hit that your job gets harder.

Suddenly, you’re dealing with jittery clients. Fears flair up. And it’s your job to be the diplomat, the counselor and the financial advisor.

Scott Danner, CEO of Freedom Street Partners, says he relishes the challenge of down markets. “I believe that every relationship is built in tough times and that’s how they become stronger. So, in a market that goes down, it’s our chance to develop long-term relationships.”

If you don’t always feel equipped to say the right thing, don’t worry. Here are three strategies other advisors are using to ease their clients’ fears — good tips to keep in your back pocket for when the market yo-yos or takes a turn.

Tip #1: Connect with the Concern

Finding the opportunity in those clinch moments starts with recognizing what’s at the heart of an investor’s fears, and then putting together a plan to tackle it head on.

Realize people have more financial questions in tough times, like:

  • Am I going to be okay?
  • Do we have enough tucked away?
  • How much is this going to hurt?

When you start with understanding client concerns, Ralph Adamo, president & CEO of Integrity Wealth Management, says you can begin to address those fears. “I think what’s key is for us to be able to bring that confidence back, to help restore the anticipation in the future, as opposed to the apprehension they’re feeling in the present.”

Tip #2: Increase Frequency

Sometimes less is more. This is not that time.

Jim Kruzan, founder of Kaydan Wealth Management, says he equates communication with value. “I tell my staff and as many clients who will listen, ‘You know, seven out of 10 years, the markets are really pretty strong. Three out of 10, they’re somewhat weak, and it’s those three that we need to be shouting from the rooftops because that’s where we really create value.’”

That’s why you’ll find the Kaydan team sending more email blasts, planning more virtual events and in-person events, and generally kicking their marketing strategy up a notch in 2023.

If you typically send out messaging once a quarter, do it once a month. If your normal marketing cadence is once a month, increase it to once a week. Let your audience know you are actively engaged. It can help you retain clients and attract prospective clients who aren’t getting the same amount of attention from their current advisor.

Justin Connors, founder & CEO of Connors Wealth Management, has a track record of successfully growing his business in challenging markets. He plans to continue that trend in 2023. “We actually do better in a down market and it’s because of our real care on the portfolio, the risk management, and the client touches. We actually increase those during market downturns when probably a lot of advisors around the country are just hiding under their desk.”

The image of an advisor hunkered down under a desk may sound dramatic, but in the world of communication, it’s the same thing as silence.

Say nothing and you’re hiding from reality.

“When the market goes bad, other advisors tend to hide away from client communication and don’t want to translate the bad news,” observes Brian Heckert, founder of FSM Wealth. “It’s not our problem that the market’s down, it’s the market’s problem. It’s how we address it and make our clients feel comfortable.”

Tip #3: Be More Visible

By increasing the frequency of your communication, you’ll be heard. It’s also important to be seen, says Danner of Freedom Street Partners. “The perception difference between seeing you on video and actually seeing you in person is very slim, believe it or not. People feel like they’re getting a part of you.” That’s why his 2023 marketing strategy includes recording more short-format videos and making sure those videos get emailed to his clients.

Additional Reading: Clients Testimonials Are No Longer Taboo

If you have time to go through your client roster, give each person one-on-one attention, and then start back at the top and do it again, then try that. However, recording videos and sending them out saves you time and allows you to be visible.

At a time when your clients have questions, you can (and should) be the answer. What stops many well-intentioned FAs from creating videos to communicate those answers is often, “Well, what do I say?” If you need help crafting your own calm, reassuring message, check out these three advisor videos for inspiration.

Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Borrow these tips to help your own clients feel calm and reassured and give yourself the opportunity to attract new business while you’re at it.

Difficult markets offer chances that don’t come along every day. “Where there’s bumps and bruises along the way, those are opportunities to really solidify client relationships,” says Dan Whittenburg, founder of Whittenburg Wealth Partners. “I think the opportunity is in the danger, if you will.”

Laura Garfield is co-founder of Idea Decanter, a video marketing company that creates custom videos remotely for financial advisors. Laura’s team helps advisors plan marketing strategies for good times and bad. To find out more about how to create videos remotely visit www.ideadecanter.com or email [email protected].

Latest news

Industry Snapshot Reveals Record Number of SEC-registered Investment Advisers

There were 15,396 SEC-registered advisers and 56.7 million asset management clients, according to the Investment Adviser Industry Snapshot

California Bans ‘Resort Fee’ and Other Hidden Charges

But other legislation would let restaurants charge a mandatory gratuity or other surcharge as long as it is displayed clearly on the menu.

Losing a Spouse Hits Most Women Hard Financially: Thrivent

Many widowed women had no financial conversations or plans in place before their spouse died, Thrivent's new survey finds.

Schwab Survey Finds Increased Opportunities for Advisors

Americans are most likely to seek financial guidance from an advisor, and three-quarters avoid social media influencers, the survey reveals.

The Sky’s the Limit for CEO Pay

Companies now must disclose how much CEO stock holdings increase when the market rises.

Advisors Boost Allocation to Private Markets as Client Interest Grows

Over half the investment advisors surveyed by Hamilton Lane plan to allocate 10%+ of clients’ portfolios to private markets this year.