In it, we see a parade of young men and women, boys and girls, doing what sporty people do – skipping, skate-boarding, trampolining, shadow boxing, bodybuilding, kicking balls and shooting hoops. Rather strikingly, none of their exertions are taking place in the usual sports halls, arenas or stadiums – but in their own living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, driveways, basements and hallways.
The simple but powerful message is: “We might not be playing together, we might not be playing for our countries yet, we might not be playing for giant crowds. But today we’re playing for 7.8 billion people. This is our chance. Play for the world.”
It’s an appeal for the audience to put aside their own battles for the time being because there is an even bigger fight. By unselfishly defying their urges to perform, to coordinate effort and to please the crowd, our stars can join the biggest team they will ever play for – the human race – and beat a greater opponent than they have ever faced.
Of course, it’s a call to arms to a sport-loving audience to stay at home to help defeat Coronavirus, despite their active natures; to think differently about their lives to facilitate a greater good.
It really got me thinking about how we, in financial advice and planning, can rethink our roles in this emergency and put aside our daily battles to join the bigger fight.
For me, the answer is obvious: we must find ways beyond the normal to be the best help we can – not just to our clients but to a wider audience of our fellow citizens, who will also be worried about the future.
That’s not to say the usual reviews of our clients’ plans and updates on their investments aren’t still crucial – of course they are – but we can provide extra help at little cost.
There are two ways of doing this. The first and more obvious of the two is simply to pick up the phone. The second is to use the insights those calls provide to create another layer of help, capitalising on the digital modes of communication we have all suddenly gotten used to in our newly-remote ways of living.
It’s good to talk
Let’s turn first to that more traditional form of contact, the phone call. Many of your clients will have all sorts of nagging fears but won’t feel like reaching out. Pride, worry and embarrassment are all perfectly natural human reactions to calamity that can cause paralysis. An arm placed proactively around their shoulders could prove a lasting tonic.
Simply calling your clients and asking them how they’re feeling about their futures will be reassuring. You’ll find they’re likely thinking about any or all of the following questions and more:
- Will my investments recover their value and how long will that take?
- Has the economic slump been factored into my plan?
- Should I release capital from my investments or hold tight?
- What about my property, should I release some equity to create a (bigger) cash cushion?
- What will happen if I stop being able to pay my mortgage?
- What Government help is there for my business?
- Do I need to give my lodger / tenant a rent holiday?
- What is the best way I can support my children or grandchildren through the crisis?
- My loans / credit card debt are worrying me; what should I do?
The positive medium-to-long-term benefit of just talking these issues out with you will be enormous. But the Coronavirus crisis has enabled a second route of communication.
A new opportunity to be relevant and reassuring
More of us than ever before are using digital communications, from video-conferencing and social media to chatbots and discussion forums.
Through pure necessity, a great number of our clients – even those of more senior years – have quickly become used to these ways of interacting and will appreciate an email, tweet or WhatsApp message aimed at reassuring them.
Better still, you or a colleague could create articles or videos addressing the concerns your clients will have. You could then reach out to them digitally to link to those pieces of content.
This doesn’t need to be bespoke advice. It can simply be guidance based on the topics above and more – your ideas will come from your phone calls.
You should be thinking in terms of creating a whole bank of content on your website. You could then segment clients into groups such as “business owner”, “already retired” or “starting out” – these are just examples – and suggest relevant articles that you or colleagues have created.
Wealth Wizards have created a new ‘COVID-19’ module which can be white-labelled to a client’s brand and tone of voice. It is an online ‘financial survival module’ designed for people who have been impacted financially by the effects of lockdown and don’t know where to turn.
It includes guidance in areas such as how to cope if your work situation changes, what to do if you’d like to convert your investments into cash and how to create a new household budget. It can also act as a triage tool, directing the customer to a financial adviser for more complex cases.
A lasting trust
The fact that content has come from their own financial adviser and / or that adviser’s company will engender a level of trust and reassurance in your client that a random blog post or press article might not.
All of this will create the impression that, when the chips were down, you were looking out for your client – and not just in a way that created an opportunity for you to relieve them of more money.
And because your efforts will potentially benefit many more people than just your clients – the internet is, of course, public – this is the way we, as a community of professionals, can simultaneously do our bit in the bigger battle.
If you’ve been thinking along these lines since before the Coronavirus struck, the arrival of the crisis has meant there has never been a better time than to get on with it.
As a famous sports brand would almost certainly say in this situation: “Just Do It!”