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Addressing the fear inside your client

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Many of you think you need to make your prospects and clients understand exactly what is going on in our country and in the world. But it is important to remember that our prospects and clients do not take action when they understand, they take action when they feel like they are understood.

I admit that even I forget this sometimes. I get caught up in the fantastic talks I have heard at conventions organized by NAIFA and MDRT. I want to share the amazing news stories from the dozen newspapers I read every day. I want to explain the details of that information to my prospects and clients. I want to make sure they understand.

But guess what? My prospects and clients do not care about all that stuff. They simply do not have the time or the energy to try to understand all of the information that we could share with them. They have other things they want to do with the limited free time they have available.

Related: When teaching clients, repetition and questions are key

Last week, two separate clients who have been with me for more than 25 years asked me to visit them. These are people that I consider to be my friends. I have reviewed their situations with them regularly, and I felt they had a good understanding of what was happening with their finances and retirement. These people are well prepared, and both have more than $500,000 in assets.

But they were confused and dismayed by current events, and they expressed fear that I did not realize they felt. They told me they were concerned about their impending retirements, and worried that their retirements would be ripped away from them. They even apologized to me, because they did not want me to feel as though they did not trust me to do a good job.

They had so many questions. Why did it seem like the market was ignoring all the negative economic news? Where would the government get the additional money it will need for Social Security and Medicare? Would taxes diminish their retirement incomes? Would they have to go back to work? Would they be able to enjoy retirement? Would they be OK?

I was stunned. I realized that I had made some assumptions based on my knowledge rather than theirs, and I had not done a sufficient job of listening to them. I had been asking them questions about the information I thought they should consider, rather than questions about what they needed in order to feel financially safe.

Related: Covering health care costs in retirement: tools you can use 

I reviewed their plan with them again, with that new context in mind. I showed them how we had tools in place that they could use to survive and thrive in the current economic climate. Then, when I got home, I called many of my other clients and shared this story. My clients overwhelmingly agreed that they were feeling more nervous than ever before. They said that they appreciated my call and my concern for their welfare.

The fear and uncertainty our clients are feeling right now is much more severe than we realize. Even people with money are starting to feel like they will not be able to retire. Those who have already retired fear that they will not be able to have the retirement they hoped for, or fear that they will not be able to stay retired.

Your prospects and clients do not need to understand the intricacies of the global economy or the exact details of the tax code. But you should go out of your way to be sure that your prospects and clients feel understood. 

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