How Innovative Advisers Are Responding To Our New Paradigm

The below is an article I wrote for the ifa magazine, reproduced with permission.

We all know how crazy the last few weeks have been in our lives and businesses. As words like ‘unparalleled’ and ‘a new normal’ have become part of our daily conversations, I don’t wish to restate what you already know.

Intuitively, we all know that ‘crises create opportunities’, but what does that ACTUALLY mean? Yes, life is different, but how do you change what you’re doing now to adapt to a new reality?

Working with a number of advisers and being connected to many hundreds more, I have been impressed and uplifted by the response of many in our industry to a world that would have been unrecognisable six months ago. Distilling down the trends I’m seeing out there, I hope some of these shifts in direction inspire you to do what you do best for more people.

Break the script

If your last few weeks have been like most, you’ve been responding to a constant stream of emails and phone calls from clients who need your help and are trying to make sense of what’s happening out there. No doubt you’ve dealt with these well, but how about the ones you haven’t heard from?

During uncertain times, people react differently. Some take action, others are paralysed by fear. I’m not worried about the clients you’ve spoken to, I’m worried about the rest of them.

If you haven’t launched a ‘one to many’ communications plan (i.e. regular email updates to all of your clients) you should. You should also have a systemised method to ensure that over the next few weeks, every one of your clients gets a phone call from your business.

Now’s the time to forget the specifics of your ‘ongoing service agreement’ and start to wrap your arm around your clients and help them however you can.

People forget what you said, they forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. How have you made your clients feel during this stressful and confusing time?

Meet the market where they’re at

One of the biggest challenges in marketing is understanding how your ‘ideal audience’ is feeling and positioning your message accordingly. But given that we have all been similarly impacted by COVID-19, there is a more consistent narrative happening inside the minds of most people than we have seen for decades. As clients get dragged down Maslow’s hierarchy, common questions include:

What does all of this actually mean for my finances?

What should I be doing in the short term?

What can I do to make sure I’m positioned well for the long term?

Compounded by spikes in email open rates and social media usage, it seems that the attention span of our target audience has also finally increased rather than decreased. Are you using the digital environment to help your audience answer these questions, as well as others that you know they have?

Throw your previous marketing strategy out the window and start to meet people where they’re currently at, not where they were. It has never been a better time to send relevant emails to your list or share a stream of valuable content on social media. The important words here are ‘relevant’ and ‘valuable’.

Side note – if you’ve been interested in dabbling into the world of video to help people at scale but haven’t quite broken out of your comfort zone, there has never been more widespread acceptance of ‘sub-par’ video locations, lower than desired camera quality and unsharp haircuts than there is right now. Make the most of it!

Partnering up

Challenging times often bring out the worst and best of people. Toilet paper hoarding aside, I have seen the best of professionals over the last few weeks, banding together to share resources, solve problems for their clients and create a net positive for their communities. As our prospects and clients grapple with the questions mentioned above, it often makes sense to bring in external professionals to create a well-rounded answer.

If you have referral partners in your business, it’s a great time to join forces to create something valuable for both of your communities. And if you’re looking to build more of those relationships in your business, what better foundation to start on than ‘how can we come together to better serve our respective clients’ vesus ‘I want your clients, so send them to me!’.

The ‘fear paralysis’ I mentioned above also extends to business owners. There are many leaders out there asking ‘what should I do now?’. For you, reaching out to another professional and finding a way to collaborate on a piece of content, an educational resource or other joint venture may be just the directional shift that this business leader is looking for.

As we all try and make sense of this brave new world, two heads are better than one. No one has all the answers, but we will find more of them by working collaboratively, rather than separately.

The wrap

In the slightly edited words of David Bowie, “I don’t know where we’re going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring”. Business has changed forever and we’re all trying to make sense of it in our own way.

Leaders step up in crises, and that extends to the leadership you have been entrusted with in the lives of your clients and your community.

In a period of intense change, what hasn’t changed is your ability to help people avoid mistakes and choose a better path for their financial future (in fact, your ability is probably more necessary than ever).

You have the power, so what are you going to do with it?


Michael Back, founder and business coach, Human to Human