I started my journey in financial services in 2002 as a commercial finance consultant. Business and personal development finally allowed me to become a fully-fledged financial advisor in 2010, making 2020 the year of my first real advisor experience during a market crash. This is my own personal experience over the last two months, and how I’ve coped with it.
I Was Prepared, But I Was Still Scared
I’ve read the books. I’ve listened to the webinars. I’ve attended the conferences. I’ve been to the courses. On an intellectual level, I understood everything that George Kinder, David Jones, Paul Armson, Nick Murray et al have said.
But being an advisor, the feeling of a market crash is still frightful.
As advisors, we are in the unique position to guide our clients through life’s financial obstacles. We’re the trusted advisor that the client can rely upon when things go “wrong.” We are their confidant, their friend, their mentor. Conceptually, I knew that one day I would need to step up, but I didn’t realise the effect the market downturn would have on me.
I’ve been using Voyant as my preferred choice of lifetime cashflow modelling software for seven years now. With each client I create a market crash scenario, usually four years that include a large fall, small up, down again and then a reasonable rise. I further discuss how the clients would feel about this event happening, not once but on average every 6-8 years. How this would affect their thinking, their feelings about their future? Would they be able to curtail spending if required. What would they consider forgoing if need be? I usually recommend a 12-18-month cash fund so that we do not crystallise any funds in the downturn.
I feel that I cover the bases, and that the technology I use helps provide the additional support that clients need to give them confidence.
The reality has felt different though.
These initial days where the markets were in freefall stirred up feelings of dread and despair -not panic – but close. I questioned myself, my investment proposition, even my overall client proposition. How was I going to explain this turbulence to each and every client? What if their plans for a financially independent future had been quashed or altered materially? Could I be the one to blame?
No one blamed me, yet I felt responsible.
Returning To Calm
I have to say it took a couple of days to raise my head above the parapet. The good news is that the books, the conferences, the training courses I partook in became of real value. As difficult as I found it, I picked up the phone and called every client. I did what I had trained to do – I listened.
I was patient and I gave each client time to discuss their current situation, what they were worried about today – their parents, their children. We chatted about the future, if they’d changed their plans and why. Strangely, many clients barely talked about their investments, although many asked if their plan was still on track Some didn’t ask about their investments at all. In later phone and video conversations many clients expressed that they understood how markets worked, how the market crash scenario had prepared then, and that they had been expecting the downturn for the last few weeks. What they hadn’t expected was the call and the space to share their feelings. I know I’m not the only one in our profession to do this, but it did make me proud to hear it.
Continuing To Learn
I realise that I still have much to learn – I expect I always will – as I strive to best serve the interests of every client. These last few weeks has been a very steep learning curve for me. Understanding my reaction to global events & markets has been an eye opener. But when everything seems out of control, I realized I must allow the client the space to discuss their fears. Compassion and empathy – not just investment performance – make you worth your fee. The time and money I have spent on reading and attending conferences and using solutions like Voyant have enabled me to serve my clients better, and they’re worth every penny.
Before 2020, I thought I was ready for a market downturn. I now know that I am.
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