From the September 2002 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

September 1, 2002

Your Peers Speak

Keeping the faith" may appear easier than it really is. The statement implies maintaining stability, integrity, and of course, client reassurance. But in a market where client reassurance and investor confidence have become nothing less than the top priority, many advisors are finding it to be the toughest aspect of their job.

When asked to do so in a recent online reader survey, planners shared their insights about investor reassurance, how they are handling client woes, and other important issues they face.

When asked what the most challenging part of the job is in serving clients, the number one answer was "time," and surprisingly enough, this not only dealt with client handholding and extra phone calls, but also in "keeping up with the business of the business--paying bills, HR stuff, regulatory matters, etc." as one planner wrote. "Making sure that we don't let small items fall through the cracks, and making sure that clients feel taken care of on a regular basis," another wrote.

Here are some of the other responses readers posted at investmentadvisor.com:

o Getting [clients] to see the long term.

o Maintaining helpful and open relationships with existing clients, while at the same time developing relationships with new clients.

o Dealing with the onslaught of negative news in the media.

o Getting clients to trust the process that we are going through now.

o Reassuring clients that [the recent accounting] scandals will make for a more transparent investment scene.

o Helping them understand that they, too, have to curtail their luxury purchases and expenses in these times.

o Keeping them thinking long term. They see the immediate issues, but need to look at their investments [where their investments are going to be] years down the road and to trust history--stay the course. We need to look forward and [at] what can we take advantage of now, not what we could have done in the past. As an advisor, we have to stay strong and not give in to our clients' fears. We are doing them a great disservice if we do.

o Reassuring them that this prolonged bear market will eventually end and that they should stay the course.

o Finding the time and resources to meet their demands.

o Communicating more often in more forms than in the past. Clients need to be constantly updated and educated about market developments.

o Keeping them calm.

o Keeping performance in line with [client] expectations.

o Focusing on one client at a time.

o Making clients realize that future rates of return will be less than in the '90s bull market.

--Megan L. Fowler

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