This article originally appeared in Financial Advisor Magazine.
The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly been one of the most significant crises of the last 10 years. Businesses around the world have closed their doors, unsure of when they will return and wondering how they will financially recover.
A strong reentry into the marketplace—or what Boston Consulting Group has dubbed a “rapid rebound”—is essential for companies to regain business lost during the shutdown.
Financial advisors are in a unique position, as much of the recent concern has caused financial stress on businesses and individuals. As the economy begins to reopen and people are questioning their financial health, it’s critical for advisors to make their presence known and position themselves as a trustworthy resource. So how exactly can you make that happen? Here I outline three steps for a rapid rebound:
1. Be aware of competitors.
Now that business operations are starting to return to normal, it’s important that your firm is seen as a front runner, but that won’t be possible if you’re complacent about keeping up with market trends. To formulate a strong strategy for returning to the market you need to know what everyone else is doing, both good and bad. Take notes on what you see from competitors and relevant brands, including:
- What they’re doing well and what you don’t like about their communications
- How they have changed their messaging from the beginning of the pandemic to this point
- How their stance in the market has changed and why
Analyzing how your competitors are responding (and the success of that response) will allow you to make educated decisions about your strategies moving forward. Timing is everything, and waiting until after the pandemic ends to begin formulating your plan will be too late. As we enter the fourth phase of COVID-19 and marketing communications, use this time to observe and prepare so you’re already at the forefront of your audience members’ minds when they’re ready to make decisions about their finances in the coming months.
2. Adapt to your clients’ needs.
The services clients needed pre-COVID were drastically different from what they will need post-COVID, and it’s your responsibility to anticipate and provide for those needs. Take time to reevaluate your current offerings and decide what is still relevant to your consumers. Making changes is not negative, but rather shows that you are listening to your audience and proves that you’re the expert they’re looking for.
For example, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program loans have helped more than 1.6 million people keep their businesses afloat for the last few months. Similarly, stimulus checks have provided individuals with a stipend to balance out a loss of income. According to a study released by Google, searches for “Coronavirus money help” have increased by 3,600 percent. As a financial advisor, it would be wise to offer a steady flow of information about how PPP and stimulus loans work and how the government plans on handling incoming applications. Examples could include weekly blog posts with updated information, infographics about how to apply or a webinar that allows people to ask questions live.
Providing resources on COVID-specific topics will not only benefit current and future clients, but it will also favorably position your firm as a reliable source during a difficult time. Because they’ve already trusted you for information, people will be more likely to hire your firm when they begin making important financial decisions.
3. Lean into the “new normal” with new messaging.
You’re probably tired of hearing about the “new normal,” but there is a reason it has become so common over the last few months: It’s a reality the entire world is facing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made a drastic impact on our society and how we function, and these changes won’t be going away anytime soon. So even if you hate the phrase, it would be naive to think your company’s products, services and messaging don’t need to change with our new way of life.
Think about what a new normal means for the clients you serve. In a survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education, 41% of respondents claimed they were most concerned about not having enough money in savings. With this and the fear of a second coronavirus wave in mind, clients will likely be more careful with their money and will want assurance that your management is keeping their investments safe and sound. Alter your messaging to ensure clients that you’re taking the proper precautions and are advising them with the current risks in mind. Send client newsletters, create company blog posts and share articles on social media that discuss prudent investment options or diversifying clients’ assets, for example.
In times of crisis, people panic—especially when it comes to their finances. It’s your job to read the situation, understand how your audience feels and alter your services and messaging to align with their needs. Doing so will help your firm be seen as an expert in the industry and gain new business to quickly bounce back from the pandemic.