Communicating in Times of Uncertainty

Kathleen WIlliamson

25 Mar 2022

Often, in times of uncertainly we need to change how we communicate. Issuing press releases, launching ad campaigns, internal memos or anything that doesn’t acknowledge the larger situation needs to be carefully considered.

 

Smart communication decisions typically involve delaying a communication and/or editing the content for tone. If the world, your country, city or industry are in crisis no one is going to care about your news. At best you fail to reach people, at worst your firm’s reputation is damaged.

 

This approach can leave an asset manager in a tough spot. Communicating regularly with clients is critical in building strong, long-lasting relationships.   So, what do you do when things are uncertain?

 

We believe that communicating with clients in times of uncertainty is essential. There is a fear in silence that can lead to misperceptions, panic and rash decisions.  Continued, appropriate communication is reassuring and helps build a sense of trust.  You don’t have to have all (or any for that matter) of the answers. What you do need to be is present.

 

The “what” “when” and “how” of your client communications needs to be well thought out and appropriate given the larger situation.  Here are a few tips to consider:

 

·      Acknowledge the situation and be reassuring: Reinforce that you/your firm is aware of what’s happening and monitoring the situation and potential impacts it could have.

·      Explore available options: Divesting, safer modes of investing, staying the course etc. are all things your client may be thinking about. Share your perspective and expertise by exploring appropriate options.

·      Include your perspective: Don’t miss an opportunity to showcase your perspective. You aren’t an expert on whatever situation is playing out, but you have managed assets in times of uncertainty in the past. Use those experiences to shape your content.

·      Select an appropriate tone:  Have you heard the expression “read the room”? This advice is critical when it comes to client communications. Think about the climate your message is going to land in and then communicate in a tone/ style that is respectful of it, not the opposite of it.

·      Customize your communications: Depending on where you client is based and their relationship to the crisis, you may need to customize the communication. A client directly impacted by a specific event and one ‘watching from the sidelines’ may need different messages, and that’s okay.