Connecting through empathy:
What investors need right now.

When investors are stressed, offering an empathic ear may be the most valuable service you can provide.

By now you’ve probably had dozens of tough conversations with investors. And while talking to panicked investors is no one’s idea of a good time, these conversations can present a great opportunity.

Driving directly into the storm and offering empathy, support, and partnership to investors can lead to deeper, more long-lasting relationships for years to come.

Here are a few simple ideas you can use right away to make these conversations easier for you and more helpful for investors.

1. Listen first. Then problem-solve. Investors likely appreciate the fact that you’re solutions-oriented. So, when they are worried about their portfolio, it may be tempting to launch into an explanation of how markets eventually rebound—or provide an in-depth plan for how you’re going to help them get back on track.

Yet, many investors just want someone to listen to their concerns. You, of all people, are in a unique position to do exactly that.

− How to prepare: Before you pick up the phone, take a breath. Remind yourself this is a chance to talk less and listen more to try and understand what’s behind investors’ worries.

− What to say. Start with “You’re probably experiencing a lot of stress these days. I’m calling to get a better understanding of what’s happening with you right now and listen for ways that I can help.”

Once they’ve had a chance to tell you what’s on their mind, you can start offering ideas based on what you’ve just heard.

2. Validate emotions. Investing success is often associated with being able to remove emotions from the process. Yet, for most investors, strong emotions are probably unavoidable right now. Your job is not to explain why they need to control their feelings. Instead, start by letting them know what they’re feeling makes complete sense.

− How to prepare: Before speaking with an investor, try to recall a situation where you felt stressed or worried. Did someone help set you at ease? Putting yourself in their shoes can be the most effective way to cultivate empathy.

− What to say: “It’s normal to feel worried in a time like this. I’m here to help. And, while I can’t control what’s happening in the world around us, I promise to find things we can do together to get your plans on track.”

3. Show you’re on the same team. When we’re up against forces and events we can’t control, sometimes we just want to know someone has our back. Here are ways to convey to investors, “it’s you and me against the world.”

− What to say: “Let’s go back and take a look at the plan we made together. We can review your goals, discuss anything that may have changed, and figure out whether the investment mix in your portfolio still makes sense based on those plans.”

In the end, this time of uncertainty may actually bring new opportunities to help investors in ways you could never have anticipated. All you really need to do is show you’re there for them, and be ready to listen.

Do you have ideas on how to make investor conversations better in times of stress? Join the conversation and follow us on LinkedIn.

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