I had been preparing clients for a downturn. My five-part advice is the same during any period of economic uncertainty: don’t panic, let your goals guide your decisions, take advantage of the long term, continue to leverage diversification and be opportunistic.
Clients want to know they’re going to be OK. If I can help them understand that we built a portfolio for a downturn — one that’s different from the market — and that their long-term goals are still on track, it often alleviates some of their stress.
My goal is to help clients be informed and feel understood so they gain a sense of control. I video conference with clients, sharing my screen to show their account holdings and performance, research reports, investment strategies, and other planning tools and software.
director, wealth management, and portfolio manager, Richardson GMP, Toronto
When markets moved into bear territory earlier this year, I held an all-client conference on Webex. I told clients not to let the media cause them to panic. The media know nothing about them or their portfolios. Long-term planning and portfolio construction are what’s important.
Depending on the client’s risk tolerance, age and level of investment knowledge, I tell them that market drops can represent a good buying opportunity. For clients prone to worry, I tell them to avoid the news and focus on positive things: I ask if they’ve been cooking and can share recipes, for example, or if they’re reading more and have book recommendations.
first vice-president, portfolio manager and investment advisor, CIBC Wood Gundy, Calgary
My main message is to stay calm. The pandemic is different from past financial and economic crises because it’s also a health concern. We take a compassionate approach, recognizing that we’re more than money managers. We’re a source of information about government assistance, tax changes and health planning.
During the pandemic, many people are at home and they absorb information in unique ways. We have to communicate in a way that fits each client — everything from email to video conferencing to social media. Clients are learning to adapt just as we are, and some of them are using social media for the first time, so we’re teaching them about different tools.