Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to rise up to the occasion and step into the role of the leader and trusted advisor your clients are desperately seeking.

marchmeena29/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

We’re living in a historic moment. The COVID-19 global pandemic has led to months of stock market volatility. That, in turn, has had an impact on investors’ emotional state, resulting in increased stress levels, fear of the future and aversion to risk.

During times of crisis such as these, people seek a strong leader they can trust – someone who understands their needs, helps them navigate the storm, sheds some light on the uncertainty and guides them to safety.

As chaotic as these situations can be, they’re also a powerful opportunity for financial advisors to step up and serve their clients, potential clients and centres of influence effectively.

Story continues below advertisement

But many advisors are trying to figure out how to manage clients’ emotions. Specifically, many clients are worried because of the stock market volatility or loss of employment and income. How do you, as their trusted advisor, guide them through that? What do you say? And how do you say it?

Many advisors try to be informative and rational when talking to their clients, but if you really want to connect with them and make sure you’re trusted, it’s important to be empathetic of their emotional state before presenting them with recommendations and opportunities.

Here are five ways to manage your clients’ emotions during a time of crisis:

1. Be aware of the emotional gap

People are emotional beings. We’re all wired to seek emotional responses and our behaviours are driven by our emotions.

If a client is really low on the emotional scale – feeling fearful, in despair or powerless – and you come to the conversation as optimistic or hopeful, the emotional gap between the two of you is far too great. You won’t be able to connect with your client and your messages of reassurance won’t resonate.

2. Create doubt in clients’ beliefs

One way to narrow that gap is to provide examples of times that were similar to our current situation, such as another market downturn or other events in which clients felt similar fear, despair or powerlessness. Then, open their mind to the possibility that this situation might not be as negative as they’re seeing it right now.

The brain’s role is to keep us safe and alive. As such, it seeks out worst-case scenarios and identifies threats. When you create doubt in their beliefs, you help them get out of their negative thought patterns and see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Story continues below advertisement

3. Provide analogies to the current situation

Analogies are a great strategy to refocus emotions. For example, you can compare current events with a terrible storm. When we’re caught up in it, we have no way of knowing what comes next, but, inevitably, there are always blue skies ahead. Recall the global uncertainty on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. No one knew what would happen after those devastating events.

This approach helps the brain diffuse the uncertainty of current events by showing us that this situation isn’t as dire as we think it is right now. We’ve been through similar awful situations before and survived them.

Sara Gilbert, business strategist and certified coach with Strategist Business Development in Montreal.


4. Show clients the ‘before and after’ of previous crises

At this point, your clients’ emotional state is diffused. Now, you can bring rational information to appeal to the rational part of their brains. How were things before the global financial crisis and great recession? What did you do? What happened after? What opportunities came out of it?

That discussion helps the brain make a comparison of what happened then and what’s happening now. It opens clients’ minds up to your ideas, suggestions and recommendations – even if your recommendation is to do nothing and stay invested.

5. Help clients take action

By following these steps, you’re showing empathy – the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and leverage that understanding so your advice will ultimately be helpful to them. From here, you’re in a position to offer recommendations, suggestions or opportunities.

Here’s a great sentence you can use at this point in the conversation: “In every market downturn, there are opportunities. My role is to seek these opportunities for my clients.”

Story continues below advertisement

Anchor your conversation on your clients’ own dreams and aspirations: “Is your question whether you’ll be able to retire in three years as you had planned?”

Remember, after all, that this crisis is an opportunity to rise up to the occasion and step into the role of the leader and trusted advisor your clients and potential clients are desperately seeking.

Sara Gilbert, business strategist and mindset coach with Strategist Business Development in Montreal, helps financial advisors implement tailored business-development strategies to grow their businesses and to attract, grow and retain clients.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies