There are a lot of statistics thrown around about bear markets, typically focusing on historical average declines or the length of time the markets take to recover. Here are two very different statistics to consider:
? Statistic #1: 87% of clients who fire their financial advisor do so because of dissatisfaction over service. Only 13% cite performance.
? Statistic #2: Research by Prince & Associates found that 81% of investors with more than $1 million in investable assets are considering taking money away from their current advisor.
Taken together, these statistics not only offer the basis for practice management in a bear market, they remind us that bear markets combine significant challenges with enormous opportunity. Advisors who respond intelligently now will build a foundation for future growth and profitability. Here are the three essential bear market steps from a practice management perspective.
1. Manage your clients’ emotions
Now is the time to earn your fees. Your most critical job is helping clients manage their emotions and preventing them from making mistakes that can damage their long-term financial health.
How critical is it to manage their emotions? Consider the most recent Dalbar, Inc., study of investor behavior. From 1988 through 2007, the S&P 500 Index had an average annual return of 11.8%. The average equity mutual fund investor, however, earned only 4.5%.
That’s an enormous difference, with many contributing factors. Chief among them is the tendency of investors to react emotionally by abandoning the market after it declines and buying back in after it rises. They sell low, buy high, lock in losses and are late to join the recovery.
You must be proactive, frequent and consistent in your message. You need to provide clarity and leadership–and education. Speak to your clients about their emotions and underscore the danger of emotional responses. Talk to them about the historical patterns of bull and bear markets. And explain that in the long term they need to be invested in equities to achieve their financial goals.
If necessary, help them consider prudent, incremental changes appropriate to their goals and risk tolerance. Above all, reach out to them frequently. You simply cannot over-communicate in a bear market.
2. Revisit your client service plan