Advisers are becoming instrumental in guiding clients through not just the financial impacts of the coronavirus, but the social.
While the coronavirus crisis has ravaged financial markets, it’s also seen advisers become one of the main points of contact for their clients, who are often at greater risk of contracting the virus in the community.
“This is a scary thing for a lot of clients on the health side personally,” Steve Aldridge, director and senior financial adviser at Ridgeman Private Wealth, told the IMAP Virtual Roadshow.
“Whilst there’s been an impact on portfolios and investments … it's not really the main thing they want to talk about. Their concerns – if you look at Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ – are a lot lower down in the pyramid: how they’re going to get groceries, how they’re going to do the day to day things.
“Having long-term relationships with clients means we’re a good point of contact to talk through those issues and just help them navigate, because some do feel quite alone.”
Mr Aldridge said that many clients blamed the finance profession during the GFC – something for which there was “a lot of justification”. But this time it’s different.
“Clients are actually asking how we’re going,” Mr Aldridge said. “How’s my family, how’re the kids, how’re the staff? It’s almost like we’re alongside them through this journey.”
Coronavirus has also led to a rise in meetings on specific issues, organised at short notice and conducted over the phone, while advisers are also helping clients step outside of their comfort zone and adapt to technological and social changes – including the new prevalence of Zoom.
“Some of the elements we have influence over – the financial component, with investments and allocations and changes that we make – but the other side is how we help them on things they’re navigating for the first time,” Mr Aldridge said, adding that he practices with some clients to get them “up and running”.
“Those things really are important, and I think people find they’re more important than money when they really take a step back and say ‘what really matters? The fact that my portfolio is down 5, 10 per cent, or the fact that I want to connect with my grandkids?’”
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