It is finally Springtime! A time when we often engage in “spring cleaning”. In the context of your business, this consists of literally throwing out bad habits you have noticed since January that have negatively impacted your productivity. The task: write them out on small pieces of paper and toss them into the garbage can one at a time. Can you conclude by identifying strategies for overcoming them in the future? These bad habits can be big or small and they can be impacting how you operate in your business or how you engage in your client relationships.
Don was an advisor who was very unsettled after the news about the inability of the current administration to come to a consensus and overturn the Obamacare policies and sought my coaching during this difficult time. He is anxious that this news is a telling example of what is to come. As hard as it was for him to think Bullish (positive and rational thoughts) about this news, it was even harder for his clients to deal with the uncertainty and emotional turmoil they were experiencing. They were both caught up in a Bearish (negative and irrational thoughts) cycle of thinking about the situation and their tolerance for investing became impaired. Jim had trouble defusing some of his more squeamish clients and was suffering from the same type of negativistic thinking. He didn’t believe the markets were safe to invest in at the present time, and as a consequence, he felt paralyzed when it came to calling his clients proactively to make recommendations. He complained that he “just sat at my desk starring off into my computer screen.” He was frozen and his clients needed a great deal of hand holding. The problem was he didn’t know what to say to them to keep them optimistic and hopeful about the future of their portfolios.
Here are some simple “Bullish Thinking” directives that I offered him to resolve his own emotional meltdown and to strengthen his client’s resolve.
1) Practice Patience: As hard as it is to imagine this setback which has been negatively impacting our markets, can be used as a reminder that good things come to those who wait. We need to remember how irrational exuberance in 2000 led to a bubble which inevitably popped. This correction can be helpful to readjust our expectations and remind us that too much and too fast can have its consequences. It is important to keep a long term perspective and engage your clients in a discussion about their concerns.
2) Pick up the phone!: When your clients are nervous and angry, calling them on the phone to calm them is probably the last thing you want to be doing. However, in the long run, holding their hands through a crisis and reminding them about the historical market trends where downturns correct themselves may be the necessary medication to soothe your client’s anxiety. Call them and impress upon them that you are their mission control and are on top of all of the subtle market changes. Ensure them that they must be patient and to stop obsessing over what they hear in the media. Call them before they contact you and you will be forever their rock of sanity in the future.
3) A great time to buy! Your client investors are scared because they don’t know where the bottom of the market is. The truth is if you are honest with yourself, you don’t know either. However, you need to impart this wisdom onto your clients: “You can only make money if you take some calculated risks.” It is important to get your clients to jump back into investing when you intuitively feel that there are obvious buying opportunities.
Don took my advice and rose up to the challenge. His enthusiasm came from his “Bullish Thinking” and his clients stayed on track. We can all be victims of bad news if we aren’t careful. Our negative forecasts or predictions about the future of the markets can be infectious. Take the time to monitor your thoughts and work to send out honest and positive communications to your clients on a regular basis. Hopefully, over the long term, you can foster a greater sense of stability and emotional discipline for both of you and your clients.