The last few weeks have been plagued with unsettling news about the markets and the economy, ranging from debt ceiling concerns to 500-plus point drops in the market. This uncertainty and volatility presents a challenge to advisors on how and when they should communicate with clients about these events. Advisors must weigh what truly affects their clients versus what is just media hype. In my experience, I have encountered two perspectives from advisors about addressing breaking financial and economic news with clients:

Those who believe there is always a crisis-of-the-day (e.g., flash crash, Japanese earthquake, debt ceiling) and that addressing each of these events is not necessary. After all, this crisis will certainly pass and there will be a new crisis tomorrow. These advisors feel that their clients hire them to manage their money by making rational, long-term decisions and not reacting emotionally to the day’s events-so it should remain their burden and not their clients’.

Those who believe it is important to address newsworthy events so that clients remain calm. Clients are hearing varying opinions about the markets and the economy from the media and the people around them, so it is important that they hear the thoughts of the person managing their money.

Of course, there is a balance between remaining dead silent through historic economic downfalls and addressing every media-hyped event. In volatile times, as well as in more stable times, there will be occasions when it becomes necessary to communicate to your clients about specific events. It is important that you are prepared when those times come.

Below are two things you can do now to be equipped to send out messages to your clients when a crisis does occur.

  1. Compile an up-to-date client email list. If you are using an email marketing system like Constant Contact or MailChimp, you may have your lists sorted by the type of publication you send out (e.g., newsletter, market wraps, etc.) instead of by the type of contact (e.g., client, prospect, center of influence, etc.). Create a list of just your clients so you are ready to send out client-exclusive messages in a moment’s notice. Also make sure that this list is updated on a regular basis, adding new clients and removing former clients as necessary. If you utilize a customer relationship management system to send emails, you will want to make sure your clients are correctly labeled in the system so they are receiving these important emails.
  2. Create a breaking news email template. This can be easily accomplished using any email marketing system. The layout should be simple so that you can quickly and easily paste your message into the body of the email and then click “send.” More complicated formats such as multiple column layouts may delay how quickly a message can be created and delivered. You may even want to consider sending a text email format to differentiate these important messages from the rest of your marketing messages (e.g., newsletters, event invitations, etc.). Whichever route you choose, make it easy and simple to create so you aren’t delaying an important message by spending valuable time formatting the email.

While we all hope that sending messages to clients about the next economic crisis won’t be as necessary as it has been in recent years, it is probably an unreasonable expectation. So prepare yourself now to be able to communicate quickly with your clients in the future.

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Kristen Luke is the principal of Wealth Management Marketing, a firm dedicated to providing marketing strategies and support for registered investment advisory firms. For more information, visit www.wealthmanagementmarketing.net.