Why being constantly available to clients paid off during pandemic

Wealth team explains importance of communication, and effective and easy-to-use technology during COVID crisis

Why being constantly available to clients paid off during pandemic

What’s been the key to retaining, gaining and coaching clients through the past 18 months of health horrors and market turbulence? It’s simple, according to one wealth management practice: communication, communication, communication.

JMRD Watson Wealth Team, a division of National Bank Financial, made sure its staff was immediately comfortable with where and how they were working. Co-CEO Reg Jackson said the team was helped by the fact National Bank had made technology upgrades a huge priority over recent years, meaning the transition to a remote operation was relatively painless.

This enabled the real difference maker – meaningful virtual meetings with clients. Jackson told WP this included reviewing financial plans, objectives and, critically, risk tolerances. Many people didn’t fully comprehend their ability to withstand volatility until it “got real” and JMRD put a lot of time into making sure clients did not make the wrong decision to liquidate or panic sell.

Jackson said: “We also found that during that February, March period [in 2020], we were doing more for clients. It wasn’t necessarily just talking about portfolios, we ended up talking about next generation stuff like what to do with kids, while people were also losing jobs. Really being available for clients worked out well for us.”

Keeping everyone on track is vital, of course, and Jackson believes the pandemic has provided an opportunity for people to think about the future with a new sense of mortality. Whether it’s financial plans, estate or insurance planning, communication should be central.

“Have a diversified team and make sure that you have a lot of your different bases covered,” Jackson added. “And manage client expectations – that’s very important. Knock it out the park when it comes to the things you [as an advisor] can control.”

Joe DiBrita, Investment Associate, Business Development Director, understood that internal happiness with the virtual system would be vital not just for morale but for radiating that confidence to clients.

Being available and attentive to what’s going on in the world has reaped its rewards with clients, while virtual face-to-face meetings were paramount.

He explained: “We've been sending out what we call our Market Observer the last 10 years every Friday. But we decided to start a midweek communication that was a little less market focused and more on what was going on in the office with the team members. And then we tried to add something a little bit fun or distracting to take our clients mind off the news.

“Internally, for the portfolio managers, we also started a daily portfolio manager call pretty much from March, when we went home. And this is something that we've continued since then. When it comes to technology, I just can't overstate that you have to have technology that works well and it’s got to be simple to use. If you have those two things, it really makes it easier for your clients.”