10 a.m. meeting with client: "If Obama gets another term, he will ruin the economy."
1 p.m. phone call with client: "If Romney wins, we'll plunge into recession before inauguration day."
I sure hope neither is correct because, and you heard it here first, one of these gentlemen will win November 6.
Such is typical for many financial planners these days. Earlier in my career, I probably would have begun a rebuttal or worse, a lecture, about why such an event was not going to happen. Today, I am more likely to welcome, than dread, a discussion with clients about the economy and even politics.
All of your clients have an opinion about the elections. For some, their views are so strong that they will feel compelled to change their financial plans in ways you would not endorse. If you can improve your ability to have an effective conversation about these topics, your clients are less likely to make financial moves they will regret.
With our clients, we will talk about the issues of the day but work to keep partisanship out of our communications for a few reasons.
First and foremost, our clients' opinions run the length of the political spectrum, but their political leanings are just one aspect of who they are. They are intelligent, well-educated, hard-working people and we respect them enormously. Therefore we respect their right to their opinion and assume they did not come to their viewpoint lightly.
Second, is our slogan, "A sanctuary from the noise." With as much information thrown at all of us these days, there is great value in making sense of this information. In a world where personal financial issues become increasingly complex, we help discern the true from the false, the practical from the useless, the probable from the merely possible, and the applicable from the merely interesting.
Like a large group of seals barking at a passing boat, the campaigns, commentators, pundits and analysts seem to have taken to making as much noise as possible to stand out. This is done deliberately. Campaigns want to fire up their supporters and media outlets want ad revenue that is dependent on ratings and circulation numbers. So when someone says something obnoxious, you better believe it is going to get some play.
Our view is if you want your clients to be levelheaded and rational, you should be levelheaded and rational yourself. We are in a period of high-quantity but low-quality information. Our clients need the opposite and we are committed to providing that to them.
When discussing politics with clients, I keep a few points in mind:
1. I cannot prove a scenario will not come to pass.