The new normal for financial advisers: a time for reinforcing empathy and meaningful client connections

From

Dawn Thomas

During these unpredictable times, it’s understandable that people are feeling high levels of uncertainty.

All aspects of our lives – from health, work and finances to socialising and the way we perform menial tasks – are being impacted in different ways.

Financial advisers are in a unique position to help clients realise their aspirations

As financial advisers, we play a fundamental role in empowering our clients to realise their goals and ambitions, and in the current environment we have a particularly unique opportunity to remind clients of an important aspect of their life that they can control – their finances.

Reviewing financial aspects such as budgeting, levels of insurance, superannuation investments and estate planning details, can help people feel like they are in a stronger position to navigate the challenges of 2020 and beyond.

We must adapt to meet changing client needs

Now more than ever, it is important that advisers continue to offer timely and relevant communication, clear information and practical strategies to our clients. We need to help clients navigate through the short term while not losing sight of their long-term goals. We have the ability to translate the complex into something simple and meaningful. This is a challenging time for everyone, and we have a role to play in providing additional guidance and support.

From my recent discussions with clients, I have found that regular government announcements on the COVID-19 environment have clients seeking reassurance with their current finances and immediate solutions to situations they may encounter. If we are to take anything away from this experience, it’s the importance of being flexible and adjusting our advice practices in order to guide and educate clients and help minimise stress levels.

Although the COVID-19 situation has had an impact on our working structures, we must invest in how we communicate and connect with clients. Simply picking up the phone to check in is an impactful investment of time with maximum effect for your clients.

For me personally, expanding communication methods over the past months has meant that I’ve gotten used to being immediately available for phone and video conferencing and I’ve been able to be more innovative in my client communication, for example, by replacing seminars with video series.

Now more than ever, the value of financial advice should not be underestimated

With the ongoing changes around us, it is important to remember that at the core, our business purpose has not changed, but it has adapted to suit the environment we live in. For me, being recognised for my work by TAL and the AFA Female Excellence in Advice Award helped me more clearly define my purpose, which is to help my clients feel included and empowered and for me to play a role in equalising power disparities.

The process of working closely with TAL as part of the AFA Female Excellence in Advice Award has made me further realise my worth and my value to the wider community. It has also shown me the value TAL places in supporting advisers and the contribution of women in financial advice to their clients. This has been an important influence on my career, especially during this uncertain time.

As we continue to adjust to the changing situation we can’t underestimate the value financial advisers have in helping people navigate their finances. We can help people avoid the worst case scenario and provide a sense of calm amongst the storm.

By Dawn Thomas, Senior Financial Adviser, Wealthwise – winner of the 2019 Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) Female Excellence in Advice Award, sponsored by TAL.

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