Business owners and executives face an abundance of challenges in the daily course of managing their enterprises, but the credit crisis and resulting recession have added an unprecedented degree of additional pressure. Despite President Obama's "glimmer of hope" for an economic recovery, many professionals have a less sanguine view of the near future.

In a series of recent research surveys conducted by Prince & Associates Inc. with the managing partners of hedge fund and private equity firms, it was very clear that expectations for the coming 12 to 18 months are low. For instance, almost two-thirds of private equity executives say it will take until mid-2010 to see a turnaround in the current economy and about one-quarter say a recovery won't happen until at least 2011 or later. As a result, 89% of hedge fund professionals expect 2009 to be a very difficult year for their business and 90% of those in private equity firms say their fundraising efforts will be harder than ever before.

In a different study with the owners of family-owned and non-family businesses, we found that roughly 60% anticipate the economic downturn to result in more fraud that will negatively impact the productivity and profitability of their companies. In a similar vein, the FBI announced in mid-April that bank robberies were up in the fourth quarter of 2008 from the previous quarter. More sobering, however, is that trends during the first several months of 2009 indicate that financial crimes are escalating.

At this stage, it is the rare person who believes a recovery is just around the corner. While the transition to a healthier economic environment will be neither quick nor easy, a number of things can make the process more bearable.

Clients and investors want (and need) straight talk from their advisors; this should include honesty and guidance that will let them take the appropriate steps to structure and secure their assets, plan for their short- and long-term needs, and prepare themselves mentally for whatever conditions the future may hold. These conversations are undoubtedly less pleasant than reviewing a client portfolio with a double-digit annual return, but may prove to be far more valuable in the grand scheme of things.