Client Conversation Center

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 an uncertain environment toward deeper and more trusting relationships with your clients.


Additional resources:

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 prioritizing 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.

It’s also important to connect with clients who may not have reached out to you. Never presume that a quiet client isn’t worried about market volatility, uncertainty and other relevant issues.


What should I say?

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

When navigating uncertain environments, many clients simply want to have human, calming, effective conversations with their financial advisor. They want reassurance that you understand their priorities and fears, and that you empathize.


Cycle of Investor Emotions

Have your clients been riding the wave of emotions in the market? Gain perspective with our interactive Cycle of Investor Emotions charts.

Consider these 9 best practices:

1. Listen to your clients

They want to know you understand and empathize 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. A myriad of factors, including the state of the economy, fluctuating interest rates, geopolitical tensions, and societal unrest are also on the forefront of many clients’ minds. Don’t feel the need to solve their challenges immediately. Rather, Ask, Listen, Empathize.

2. Focus on their priorities

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, personalized message can instill 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 behavior. 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. Help your clients gain perspective

During bouts of market volatility, provide your clients with a better perspective on the long-term nature of market trends to help them overcome their short-term concerns.

6. 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?

7. 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.

8. Embrace technology

With many individuals either working remotely or in hybrid setups, 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.

9. 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.

man on phone

Your client reviews during difficult markets can be stressful—even with long-standing clients. Preparation can go a long way to reducing that stress.

Client review resources

Managing your practice during uncertainty​

During market volatility, 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 while managing these multiple priorities:

Emphasize client-centric engagement

Once the dust settles, it’s time to re-discover your clients and ensure you and they are crystal clear on their priorities, which may have evolved as a result of the recent environment.

Resources available:

  • Client Discovery Cards & Worksheet
  • Client Engagement Roadmap
  • Family Planner & Organizer
  • Client Discovery podcast episode

Look to the future like a CEO

Sometimes unexpected situations present opportunities for change. Striving for continuous improvement will help build a practice focused on efficiency, profitability, and sustainability.

Resources available:

  • Practice of the future consultation
  • Strategic Planning Assessment​
  • Custom Business Analysis
  • Skills and Time Analysis
  • Team Formation Guide
  • Team Readiness Assessment
  • Team Capacity Analysis​

How can I help my team most effectively navigate an uncertain environment?

The best leaders put their People first, provide Perspective, clarify Priorities and lead with Optimism. Here are 9 ways you can implement these leadership principles for your team:

1. Meet with your team

Market volatility can disrupt the harmony and flow of a team. Be sure to set up a cadence of meetings to openly communicate, problem solve, and align on client priorities.

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

Revert to your team executing your existing client service model for proactive and reactive engagement. Determine what must be achieved today and what can wait.

4. Make sure the team understands the message to clients

What are the intentional changes the team is making to respond to this uncertain environment? What should the team say, what should they offer to clients? Roleplaying 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. 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. Establish team role clarity and transparency

In addition to daily meetings, formalize 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.

7. Empower the team

If you expect team members to take ownership, you must empower them to make decisions. The formal communication process in item 6 will allow you to trust but verify.​

8. 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 friends and family who are concerned. This opportunity to win business from the competition will never be better.

9. Leverage your resources

Reach out to your Russell Investments dedicated regional team for support: Whether it’s guidance on crucial client conversations, analyzing 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.


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