Client Conversation Centre

No matter how much you prepare clients for market volatility, it typically comes as a surprise and sparks a roller coaster of emotions. Consider these client engagement best practices and resources to navigate the current environment toward deeper and more trusting relationships with your clients.

Managing your practice during uncertainty​

Right now, you are likely trying to balance calming your clients’ emotions, supporting your team, managing your business, and attending to your own personal and family situation. That’s a lot to juggle!

Consider these prompts to help you stay productive—and healthy—in the short-term:

Focus on your clients

Navigate the current environment toward deeper and more trusting relationships with your clients.

Focus on your clients

Focus on your team

The best leaders put their People first, provide Perspective, clarify Priorities and lead with Optimism.

Focus on your team

Focus on yourself

But most importantly, we want to ensure that you are taking care of yourself too.

Focus on you

Who should I talk to?

The sheer number of calls to manage during periods of market volatility can feel daunting. Who should I connect with first? How can I create a process to ensure the most impacted clients feel served?

Consider prioritising your proactive client contact based on the client's circumstances today:​

Clients in retirement and worried clients

This client group is typically most affected financially by market volatility and may require an immediate review of their plan, and potential changes. Reassure them that you have reviewed their plan and explain any changes you recommend.

Clients nearing retirement

Review whether these clients are still on track. Some plans may require adjustments. Let these clients know whether any immediate modifications are needed, and that you’ll schedule a more in-depth conversation soon.

Clients planning for retirement

Contact these clients via phone, letter or email. Encourage them to focus on their long-term outcomes and share regular updates on the markets. Let the clients know that you will be setting up meetings with them in the near future.


What should I say?

How can you best engage your clients? Authentically ask, listen, and empathise.

When navigating uncertain environments—particularly one like today—many clients simply want to have human, calming, effective conversations with their financial adviser. They want reassurance that you understand their priorities and fears, and that you empathise.

Consider these 8 best practices:

1. Listen to your clients

They want to know you understand and empathise with their feelings. Getting the emotional and human side of the conversation is probably the hardest but the most important in terms of calming their fears and anxieties. Market volatility is only part of what is causing client concerns. Health concerns and family responsibilities are also on the forefront of many clients’ minds. Don’t feel the need to solve their challenges immediately. Rather, Ask, Listen, Empathise.

2. Focus on their priorities

Ask open-ended questions to understand their top priorities and immediate needs.

3. Over-communicate that you and your team are here

While you may have worked to prepare your clients for inevitable market volatility, emotions can be, well, emotional. All team members should be prepared to support clients during this time of uncertainty. Responsiveness, empathy and authenticity can go a long way in putting clients at ease. When fear is at its highest, a consistent, personalised message can in-still reassurance and confidence.

4. Remind them of your value proposition & why they work with you

One of the primary obstacles to investor success is not investment performance, but investment behaviour. Your ability to manage clients’ emotions and expectations during this time will be what sets you apart and is likely to set them up for long-term investment success.

5. Words matter

When addressing clients’ market-related questions, drop the jargon and resist being too technical. Have a thoughtful and consistent core message for clients to help them focus on what matters most. After all, most clients will simply want to know: How is the market environment likely to impact my life. Am I, my family and my future going to be ok?

6. Offer to talk to any friends or relatives who are concerned.

Letting your clients know that you are willing to talk to the people they care about will provide entry into their inner circle.

7. Embrace technology

With many individuals working from home in the short-term, embracing technology will help you be present for your clients. Note that virtual conversations are typically much more impactful if you can observe body language. Consider technologies like Facetime, WhatsApp, Zoom and Skype that allow you to see the client while you are speaking with them.

8. Protect the plan

Ensure that clients’ portfolios are still in line with their long-term plans. Portfolio allocations have likely shifted in the recent market volatility. Evaluate if any changes are needed. If all is in order, protect the plan you’ve created with the client. Making irrational decisions today can have long-lasting negative consequences on the health of a client’s wealth. By learning more about client biases and where they are on the roller coaster of emotions, you can help the client stay focused on how and why investment decisions were made in the first place.

How can I help my team most effectively navigate this environment?

The best leaders put their People first, provide Perspective, clarify Priorities and lead with Optimism. Here are 10 ways you can implement these leadership principles for your team:

1. Be supportive

End each day with a 5-minute team check-in meeting. Reassure them you’re all in this together, see how everyone is holding up, sync up on what happened today, and jointly prioritise and set expectations for tomorrow.

2. Hold each other up

For some team members, this might be the first period of market volatility of their career. Many are likely experiencing an unprecedented level of personal stress. Understand that mistakes might be made. Focus on the solution and course correct without placing blame. There will be a time and place later to debrief what went well and what didn’t.

3. Focus on what you and your team can control

Now is the time for reasonable expectations and to ensure you have a Business Continuity Plan in case of unforeseen circumstances. Schedule a 15-minute morning meeting with your team to focus on each person’s Daily Next Best Action: Determine what must be achieved today and what can wait. Encourage your team to be realistic about their goals—and not to forget to also take care of themselves and their families.​

4. Make sure the team understands the message to clients

What are the intentional changes the team is making to respond to this unusual environment? What should the team say, what should they offer to clients? Role playing likely conversations can help prepare team members and empower them to work for the benefit of the client while representing the team well.

5. Put in place a call-escalation policy

Define and communicate to your team what types of client calls should be immediately escalated to you, which ones the team can handle, and which conversations can be postponed for a later date. You may be experiencing a temporary lull in client call volumes as clients are busy addressing the highest priority person and family issues in this changed environment. But be prepared for a likely increase in calls as the reality and impact of market volatility begins to sink in. Empathy, authenticity and responsiveness go a long way toward putting clients at ease.​

6. Prioritise. Together.

Your business priorities have likely shifted over the last several weeks. Decide as a team what has to be done immediately and what can wait.

7. Establish team communication and transparency

In addition to the daily 5-minute stand-up meeting and the 15-minute morning meeting, formalise communication channels to ensure required tasks are completed and that all members are taking ownership for critical tasks. Have a defined communication structure to determine who is Responsible for certain tasks, who has to Approve, who should be Consulted and who needs to be Informed. This sort of structure and transparency will help team members stay on the same page and ensure critical tasks do not get missed.

8. Empower the team

If you expect team members to take ownership, you must empower them to make decisions. The formal communication process in item 7 will allow you to trust but verify.​

9. View this as an opportunity to win new business

Make new business development part of the team priorities. Offer to clients that you are available for consultations with friend and family who are concerned. This opportunity to win business from the competition will never be better.

10. Leverage your resources

Reach out to your Russell Investments dedicated regional team for support: Whether it’s guidance on crucial client conversations, analysing portfolios, framing market commentary in a client-friendly manner, or accessing business solutions tools and resources to run your business like a CEO—we are your partner.

Taking care of you

Sharing best practices to help you manage your clients, your team, and your business through this crisis is a priority for us. But most importantly, we want to ensure that you are taking care of yourself too.

1. Get connected

Find your local area's website to stay informed about updated safety information and precautions.

2. Know the procedures

Be aware and prepared of the steps you need to take if you or your family become ill. (Other sites: World health organization and CDC)

3. Stock up

Store plenty of food and supplies at home in case of quarantine.

4. Keep your health and well-being front of mind.

Exercise, eat healthily, make sure you rest and get some sleep. Taking care of yourself will ensure you can continue to also care for your family, clients and team.

5. De-stressing in the moment

Stay present in the moment, optimistic and calm, especially when talking with concerned clients and team members. Create a process that can help you re-center and destress. Meditation apps such as Headspace, Calm and Aura may help.

6. Find a colleague or friend who can serve as your sounding board.

Everyone needs someone that they can confide in. Find and connect with that person.

7. Spend time with those people you care about most.

They need your energy and focus, not just your presence.

8. Kids at home?

Look for fun & educational (& free) virtual activities. For starters, try this one:

9. Working from home?

Use Technology to your advantage. Download a way to touch base visually with family, friends and clients. Clients understand right now that all of us are managing multiple priorities. It’s ok if your client sees your 4-year old in the background. Prepare for virtual engagement.

man on phone

Reach out to your Russell Investments team for additional team resources.

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