By: Jody Lowe; Andy Azinger

In this pandemic era–or any period of crisis—your financial communications will set you apart, and, some financial professionals will fall short. Here are tips for what’s working.

Duration: 15:00

Jody Lowe: I think so many people, in times of crisis tend to want to hunker down. But the real leaders are the ones that sort of embrace the time. And they get out there and they get in front of their clients, they get in front of journalists, and they remind them of their leadership, with a helpful heart.

Andy Azinger: That’s Jody Lowe, President and managing director of the Lowe Group. We’re here with tips for communicating with your clients in this pandemic era. I’m Andy Azinger. This is the LoweDown Podcast. Hi Jody!

Jody: Hey, Andy.

Andy: Let me explain to our listeners. What we’re talking about today expands on a post on a LoweDown Blog that was written in March, tips for financial communications in times like these. Why did you feel like that was the right thing to do, then? And why was it the right time to write it?

Jody: Well, first of all, most everyone’s traditional ways of operating has just been up ended. We wrote about this on the blog, as you mentioned, and wanted to quickly share some tips to just help people get acclimated to this new environment. And to point out the things that they can be doing that’ll make a difference. I think so many people, in times of crisis tend to want to hunker down. But the real leaders are the ones that sort of embrace the time, and they get out there and they get in front of their clients. They get in front of journalists, and they remind them of their leadership with a helpful heart.

Andy: Mmm hmm.

Jody: And we wanted to provide some confidence to them that the right thing to be doing was to be communicating, and then, ways that they could do their communication productively.

Andy: Right, right.

Jody: And then my colleague Ben also took some time to write a sister article for our website for our clients that need to communicate with their mutual fund clients or their advisory clients on a quarterly basis. How do you go about doing that when we’re all working from home? And it’s a difficult time to do all of your quarterly communications in a quick turnaround in normal circumstances, but how do you do it when you’re working remotely? And he offered some really great tips on that as well.

Andy: And kind of the underlying factor that that kind of underpins both those articles is really kind of doing it with a helpful heart, which you mentioned earlier.

Jody: Yeah, I think that’s really important. And I think it’s generally important, always in life to, you know, assume good intent and try to help people as you go. But I think in times like this, it’s really important to understand that the reason why you’re talking with a journalist or the reason why you’re creating some content is to be helpful.

Andy: Mmm hmm.

Jody: And for us, you know, we’ve had a number of our clients really step up and provide useful and helpful information to journalists who are working really hard to make sense of this for their readers. Those readers are also you know, our clients’ clients. And it’s important to, to everybody to be helpful and try to be as useful as you can in these difficult times.

Andy: Well, Jody, I’m going to organize your write up into two categories first, being what I’d call what to do, and second how to do it. And you lead off by in terms of what to do, you lead off by suggesting that financial professionals share the facts.

Jody: Remember that a lot of the people we work with are truly financial experts. They’ve got years of experience, and they’ve been through a variety of different markets. And so, whether you’re talking to a journalist or directly with clients, people really want reliable information when so much is changing, and so much is uncertain. The problem is, is that no one really knows the answers right now.

Andy: Mmmm.

Jody: So, we saw a few clients who were able to show historical information, for example, that could put the current market into context. For example, The Leuthold Group in Minneapolis is a great example. They were sharing historical information over the last 93 years about what the historical average length of market declines had been. And then trying to put the recent market swoon in historical perspective, it was really valuable and helpful information. So, people could see that this was truly an extraordinary and quick bear market plunge, and how did it relate and it was welcomed by a lot of journalists to see that kind of really useful and helpful information.

Andy: And in addition to that helpful information, you’re suggesting that people offer insights. And I find that interesting, because, you know, insights come from just about everywhere.

Jody: Yeah.

Andy: So, the insights that you’re suggesting your clients provide, how are they different from any other broadcast network?

Jody: Yeah, that’s a that’s a really good, important question, something we talk a lot with our clients about in terms of what is it that makes you different? What are the core messages? We call it a message triangle that you should be incorporating into everything you do to reflect what it is that your particular brand of financial help means. So, depending on the client, it can be different. So, one of our clients was writing about the CARES Act, and he was able to tell a story. He had college age kids who were going to be receiving some of the stimulus money. They were struggling in school was on hold. They were working to get themselves through school without debt. And he told the story about helping them use their stimulus money and potentially filing their own taxes and getting a college credit to be able to use that money in a way that they could make the most of it. So, he told a personal story that included the story of his own sons and what he was telling them to do. Now you have to be really careful in the financial advisor world about testimonials. And you can’t be a little bit you have to generalize.

Andy: Right.

Jody: But telling stories is one way to do it. And making those stories real so that people can see themselves and those stories. When it comes to investment commentary. We had one client who really is a leader in alternative investments, and they very, very quickly got their chief investment officers together to do live webcasts with advisors, focusing very specifically on the impact on the alternative investment space. So, they were using their unique brand of financial management to get very specialized information out there that was going to be meaningful to the financial advisors that they were trying to reach.

Andy: And third, you encourage financial professionals to step up. Explain that.

Jody: Advisors have to talk to people who are scared about the future who are worried about what the decline in the market might mean for their for their own future. And they’ve got to help them and keep them on track. We had another client that has a particular niche serving advisors with annuity products. And what’s unique about this client is they’ve created a platform where those products are commission free. And what they do and what they did in the midst of the crisis, is they offered that platform to advisors for free. And so, advisors could help their clients to find these commission free annuities. And these are the kind of products that were very much in demand in the midst of the crisis just because they tend to be security investments and helpful for people who are worried about the future? And by giving access to those people to their platform for free, they were able to help people out at a difficult time.

Andy: Well, Jody, I can’t believe that we’re just about eight minutes and some change into the program, so far, you’ve given us so much great insight. Just to kind of recap what we’ve heard so far. You’ve talked about A) share the facts, B) offer personal and unique insights. And C) just step up. You know, clients need you. Just help them remember why they chose to work with you in the first place is my takeaway.

Jody: Yeah.

Andy: We’re going take a short pause to let those ideas sink in before Jody helps us put these ideas into action. And, you know, just groove out a little bit.

Jody: HA!

Andy: I’m Andy Azinger. We’ll be right back.

[Musical Interlude … “Beautiful Day”]

Jody: Something we talk a lot with clients about that it’s, you know, it’s not always about selling, it’s about trying to be transparent and reflect who you are and what your brand is. And it’s times like these that you can show deeper side to your personality. And I think those are the kinds of companies that people want to do business with.

Jody: Yep. And to add a little context. During the break, I asked Jody about the value of telling compared to selling, especially in times like these, and well, you heard what she had to say. But let’s transition this discussion into putting these insights into action. And the first thing you mentioned in your blog is that everyone’s traditional ways of operating have been upended.

Jody: That’s so true. And all of us are spending time on Zoom meetings now that we never used to. And it’s a lot of fun. But it’s also very different. And add to that the fact that news and the markets are moving really quickly. Now we saw a couple of our clients helping journalists out really effectively. In the past, we might have scheduled an hour-long phone call for an interview, we saw a number of interviews happening over email, where a journalist would send a bunch of questions, our client would respond to those questions via email, and then there might be a little bit of back and forth and clarifying. So, you know, trying to squeeze in those conversations and helping reporters through email was really helpful to both the journalist and to the client as everybody’s been stretched for time. And then further, I think we’ve had a number of clients appearing on broadcast via Skype. So, how do you make sure you’re putting your best face forward in those kinds of interviews? So, in the blog, we offered a few tips, trying to make sure that you’re being lit properly, you don’t want the light coming from behind you, you want the light to be in front of you. So, you’re well lit, you don’t want to be looking down at your computer, you want to be looking straight on. And you want to take a look at what your background might look like, you know, clean up a little bit, make sure that the background is nice.

Andy: Mmm hmm.

Jody: So, you know, I don’t want to be too serious about this. But I do think that there’s ways that you can put a nice face forward, we did have one of the chief investment officers we work with do a really terrific broadcast interview. And instead of sitting in his chair, he stood up, he had his computer in front of him. And he was able to have his Chartered Financial Analyst certificate on the wall behind them. And I thought that was really appropriate thinking about what’s going to be behind you, especially if you’re doing a broadcast Skype interviews is a good idea.

Andy: And your second action item is to revise, explain what you mean by that, Jody.

Jody: It’s so important now, and I think all of us have been experiencing this. All of our plans were put on hold as soon as we heard about this pandemic and began working from home. And as we progress through this crisis seems like what we wrote a week ago, is no longer relevant. And even day to day, things change so quickly. So, it’s really important to take a look at, you know, what you’re planning to post on your LinkedIn or on your website, or content that you’re going to be sharing with the public. Take one last look, make sure that you know, there isn’t some key piece of data that since the time of writing and the time of publication has changed. So, you know, revising and taking a quick look to things and even going back and refreshing the things that you’ve already posted.

Andy: And that brings us, really, to the last point that you made in your blog post which is not to be tone deaf. So sometimes you may have to go back into previous communications and kind of rethink them a little bit.

Jody: Yeah.

Andy: But certainly going, you know, forward. Why don’t you explain what you mean by tone deaf?

Jody: You don’t want to be tone deaf in the sense of making light of things, talking about things that people really aren’t thinking about. But you do want to acknowledge, in every opportunity you can, what everybody’s going through. And I think we all see this even day to day in our day to day phone calls and emails for checking in on people, making sure they’re okay, making sure they’re staying healthy. Right? It’s the same thing, checking in acknowledging what’s going on, and acting in a way that shows sensitivity to the fact that the world has changed.

Andy: So important. And all of this, Jody, rolls up into the thought we’d lead off with which is the idea of being heart forward.

Jody: That’s so important. This is what makes us, every client of ours and every client of theirs unique. We’re all victims of this pandemic and wherever any crises arise. You know, when something feels awkward or it’s inappropriate at the time, at a minimum, acknowledge the unknown. Remember, we’re all in this together. And again, proceed with a helpful heart.

Andy: Well, Jody, this has been helpful and those who know you know where your heart is. And for our listeners, you can keep up on the LoweDown, both the podcast and the blog, at Until next time, Jody, thank you very much for talking with us today.

Jody: Thank you, Andy. This is really a treat.

Andy: Heh. I’m Andy Azinger. Take care.