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Industry Spotlight > Broker Dealers

Coping With Tragedy

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Investment Advisor’s October 2001 issue was in full-blown production and nearing completion when the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred. As did many others in those dark days, the IA editorial staff plunged into its work to help cope–scrambling to produce a special news report in time for the October issue on the ways advisors were reacting to the events, where in this new, troubling world they might counsel their clients to direct their investments in the days, months, and years ahead, and how they were counseling their clients to cope with this event.

IA’s veteran “Psychology of Advice” columnist Olivia Mellan pitched in immediately as well when we asked her to contribute some of her insights to the editorial effort that month. She wrote calmly yet eloquently about how advisors could effectively deal with their clients’ feelings. She also suggested ways that advisors themselves could stay healthy at the same time, as this excerpt from her contribution to that issue below illustrates.–Ed.


Since the earth-shattering events of the terrorist attacks, many people have been plunged into shock and experienced overwhelming feelings of fear, rage, anxiety and despair. How can you help your clients get back to some emotional balance and facilitate healing in the midst of unspeakable loss?

First, reach out to clients and their families and express your concern. Listen and empathize without jumping in too quickly to try to solve their dilemmas. But when they are ready for caring advice, remember that there are several ways people can be helped to heal:

  1. Remind each individual that they have something in their lives that helps them reconnect to hope and healing and urge them to do it….
  2. Take meaningful action against the scourge of events.
  3. Encourage clients to reach out to family, friends, and even strangers, to give and to receive comfort and solidarity.
  4. Help clients who are spiritually or religiously oriented to seek comfort and connection in these ways.

Finally, only offer practical financial help (like revisiting clients’ goals) when the client’s emotional state is balanced enough to know what he or she really wants.


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