If it hasn’t started already, you’ll likely soon be inundated with questions and concerns about the market’s — and your firm’s — response to COVID-19. You may be contacted by plan sponsors, participants and coworkers en masse, all trying to figure out how to best navigate the crisis.
This is certain to be a hyper-busy time for advisors, who are under pressure to process the ramifications of the CARES Act for their plans and participants. If you’re not organized and prepared, you could end up spending a lot of time addressing the same issues over and over again. But with some thoughtful pre-planning, you can provide clients with helpful information that they can access at their convenience while helping you operate more efficiently and better manage your schedule during this unprecedented time.
Pre-compose email responses on hot topics. Rather than blasting out all relevant information at once, pre-write emails on key topics so you’re ready to respond quickly and accurately to clients’ concerns when they reach out to you.
Simplify the CARES Act for clients and participants. Businesses, advisors and everyday Americans are trying to understand the details of the CARES Act and how it can assist them, their employees and their clients. Help by summarizing key provisions of the national relief package for participants and sponsors, and share information on how they can access benefits, such as the Paycheck Protection Plan.
Create a dedicated COVID-19 web page. Include COVID-related information and link out to other helpful resources. Also include any changes to operating hours, special services available during the pandemic and any updated contact information.
Prepare FAQs. Answers to frequently asked questions can be posted on your COVID landing page, emailed or even snail mailed to retirees or employees working from home.
Use your client portal. Place important investment-related information directly on your client portal where participants will see it as soon as they log in.
Leverage video. With everyone inundated by email messages, consider providing market and other updates by video. Videos can feel more personal and reassuring, while enabling you to easily display relevant charts and other graphics.
Schedule “office hours.” For clients who prefer to communicate by phone, set aside and announce certain days and times when you’ll be available by phone for 15-30 minute conferences. While not all calls may ultimately fit into this schedule, you may at least be able to group calls together into your calendar, as opposed to having more frequent interruptions throughout the day or week.
Practice social listening. Take this time to gauge clients' concerns by monitoring social media channels. Prepare messaging to deal with issues and questions you see bubbling up online.
Check in after email updates. By sending out updates and then calling to follow up, you hopefully will have answered at least some clients’ questions before they’re even asked, which can save you a lot of time.
Open the floor for questions ahead of “meetings.” Provide an easy way for clients or colleagues to submit questions ahead of video conferences so you can be prepared to address their most pressing concerns.
If your clients know where they can find answers to questions and when they can expect updates, you can be more efficient in disseminating useful and important information and exert greater control over your schedule during these turbulent times.