Economic uncertainty, a sharp downturn in the U.S. housing market, soaring fuel prices and the credit crisis have caused consumer confidence to drop to nearly an all-time low. It could be assumed that the outlook by agents and advisors who make a living dealing with the financial issues of clients would also be negative.
But confidence appears to be running high in one segment of the agent and advisor population. Top advisor after top advisor with whom we talk tell us that although these are difficult times, it is also the greatest time to be in this business.
Opportunity in difficult conditions?
There is a phenomenon experienced by the nations’ top agents and advisors when market conditions get bumpy. They excel! In difficult market conditions, these professionals bring on more new clients and referrals increase.
We surveyed 50 of the nation’s top financial professionals with different areas of business focus, from different firms and in different areas of the country, to inquire about their strategies for thriving in difficult times. The answers were surprisingly similar and based on taking advantage of opportunities and instilling confidence in times of great uncertainty.
The opportunity begins when clients are increasingly thirsty for answers. They want solutions and they want to be communicated with.
Many professionals with whom we talked recalled 2002 as an incredible year for growth, though the markets experienced decline. When the markets decline, investors may be looking for a change, and they will often look to an obvious choice: someone who has name recognition or someone trusted by others.
A simple ad in the newspaper that in good times brings exposure only to a firm has been seen to generate phone calls from interested prospects in volatile times. An increase in exposure helps capture the clients who are looking for a change.
Right now is the best time to get referrals
It may be surprising, but volatile market conditions are one of the best times to get referrals from clients. It’s when the value is reaffirmed. Referrals come as a result of the increased focus on consistent, confidence-building conversations with clients, addressing the psychology and fear of the client and reaching out proactively. Yes, these activities may be common sense, but they have been shown to result in better than usual referrals and new business sales.