One of the best ways to help your clients through the Coronavirus is to be a reliable source of support and reassurance.
Being on top of your finances means you can meet your physical needs, afford enjoyable experiences and avoid the worry of how to make ends meet. So it’s no surprise that many Australians are experiencing increased levels of stress and worry due to the financial effects of the Coronavirus.
According to CoreData’s latest pulse check, about half of their respondents say the Coronavirus has caused their overall wellbeing to suffer, while 57% report that it has affected their mental health. A huge 82% of Australians are worried about the effect the virus will have on the economy as a whole and their own finances, with 59% saying that they, a family member or both have lost their income.1
You’ve most likely found that some of your clients are experiencing significant anxiety about their financial situation. So how can you help them manage their wellbeing while working towards meeting their financial goals during these uncertain times?
Ask, support and listen
No-one expects you to have all the answers right now. But a lot of the time, your clients will feel better if they can voice their concerns out loud and discuss possible scenarios with you. It will help them to feel understood and reassure them that they can rely on you to understand their financial situation and needs. Beyond Blue recommends following three simple actions to initiate a conversation with someone who may being struggling: ask, listen and support.2
Ask means making the first move by recognising that your client is going through a difficult time. Raise the topic in a way that feels natural for the conversation. This could be as simple as asking your client how they’re coping, whether they have anything they want to discuss with you, or if there’s anything keeping them up at night. Your clients may be hesitant to discuss their concerns with you and will appreciate you being the one to broach the topic.
Listen means taking the time to understand their experience and resisting the temptation to offer solutions. Ask follow-up questions to encourage them to continue if the conversation stalls. Recognise and validate how they’re feeling by summarising what they’ve said to you to ensure you’ve understood their concerns correctly.
Lastly, support means being patient with your client and reassuring them that you’ll be available when they need you. Again, this doesn’t mean that you have to have a solution to their problems right now. It can make a big difference to your client’s overall wellbeing just to know they have someone who can help them navigate through uncertain times now and in the future.
Expand your services
If you’re already offering holistic financial wellbeing services to your clients such as cashflow, budgeting and debt management advice, this may be the time to further expand on how you can help them.
If your clients are experiencing a reduction in income, or they want to put a safety net in place in case things get worse, this could be the perfect time help them examine their financial behaviours and talk through some different strategies. Here are a few approaches you could take:
- Discuss various scenarios of how a client’s financial situation may change in different situations – for example, if they lose their job or if their retirement savings take a hit.
- Look at their spending and saving patterns in detail so you can highlight areas where expenses may be higher than they need to be.
- Provide clients with case studies and examples of what financial wellbeing looks like for someone who is in a similar situation to them – so they can compare how they’re tracking and get ideas for how they can make some changes.
You may also need to assist clients who are eligible for government assistance, including talking through the long-term financial implications of accessing their super early and discussing whether it’s the right action for them.
Read more here about helping your clients improve their financial wellbeing.
There are many resources available that you can recommend to your clients to help them reduce stress and promote healthy, beneficial conversations on financial and mental wellbeing.
For example, Headspace has a mindfulness program that covers meditation, improving sleep quality, relaxation techniques and tips for healthy living.
Beyond Blue has put together a Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service with advice and strategies for small business owners, healthcare workers, parents, people who have lost their jobs, and anyone who wants to improve their mental health.
There is also the government’s Head to Health website that brings together a variety of resources such as mental health services, advice on keeping safe and staying connected, and a variety of Coronavirus fact sheets.
Remember to take care of yourself as well. The better your own wellbeing, the more equipped you’ll be to help your clients through this difficult period and start the recovery once it’s over. Read more about how to build your resilience and how to stay well throughout these times.
1 CoreData, It’s tough out there: the impact of COVID-19 on Aussie’s finances and wellbeing, 2020.
2 Beyond Blue, Talking to someone you are worried about, 2020.
Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (Colonial First State) is the issuer of super, pension and investment products. This is based on the understanding of current regulatory requirements and laws as at May 2020. While all care has been taken in the preparation of this document (using sources believed to be reliable and accurate), to the maximum extent permitted by law, no person including Colonial First State or any member of the Commonwealth Bank Group of companies, accepts responsibility for any loss suffered by any person arising from reliance on this information. This information is for the adviser only and should not be handed on to any investor. This information should only be treated as educational and not taken as any form of advice including but not limited to financial, business, or marketing. Seek professional advice when necessary. It does not take into account any person’s individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) before making any recommendations to a client. Clients should read the PDS and FSG before making an investment decision and consider talking to a financial adviser. The PDS and FSG can be obtained from colonialfirststate.com.au or by calling 13 18 36.