The biggest challenge financial advisors are facing in the pandemic era is communicating the right language to their clients and using it at a high level of sensitivity across digital platforms, an Invesco executive said.

Yes, words matter, said Scott West, head of Invesco Global Consulting.

“Advisors want to know what to say. ‘Don’t give me theory. Give me what to say,’” West said, adding that words are always important in any market, but when you go through times like the pandemic, investors hang on to every word.

Invesco has introduced a four-part webinar series titled, What Matters Most Right Now, designed to help advisors sharpen their edge as they reach out to clients during uncertain times. 

West shared the first module of the program, "The Resilient Advisor: The Right Words At The Right Time," which consist of three components.

The first component focuses on taking care of yourself. West explained that includes exercising and connecting with friends, families and hobbies. West said one of the biggest actions for him was imposing a toxic blackout, where every two days or so, he would not watch the news or do anything that gets him caught up in the issues of the day. “That’s been very powerful,” he said.

The second component, Right Your Focus, centers around acting on what you can control. “You don’t want to be a passive victim, you want to be an active participant in those activities that you can control,” West said.

The third component, which West referred to as the meat of the program, is Right Your Clients. This deals with how advisors can best communicate with clients. West said research from the Great Recession to now found that people adhered to four “P” principles – Be Positive, Be Plausible, Be Plain-spoken and Be Personal – that have proven to be effective.

Advisors need to be positive, West said, and that does not mean "blind, Pollyannaish, it’s all going to work out, just trust me." Rather, it is being hopeful and having an upbeat approach that they can take some positive actions, West said. 

Advisors need to be plausible in their messaging, “so it isn’t, we have seen this before, we are at the bottom, it’s going to rock it up from here,” West said. They have to be credible, he said, explaining that it is almost an inverse relationship, where the less you know about what is going to happen that you communicate to the client, the more credibility you have. “It’s almost opposite to what advisors feel they have to say. They feel they have to make implausible statement about how ‘it’s only going to go up from here, it’s a V-shaped recovery,’ but all those things just violate the principle of being plausible,” he said.   

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