New research from Logica Research’s Future of Money Survey offers important insights about consumers and money in a world upended by COVID-19. What do consumers want and how should you communicate with them? A recent webinar on the study sponsored by the Financial Communications Society stressed the need for empathetic communications. Financial companies should demonstrate they understand their customers’ issues and speak to them where they are.

It has been widely reported that women and lower income consumers have been hit disproportionately by this crisis – they earn less and have less saved. The study found they are more likely to run short each month leading to lower spending and missed payments, and for some, the expectation of a delayed retirement.

The study found consumers are listening carefully to how companies communicate and are tuned in to the subtleties. They want to know companies understand their issues, but they don’t want their financial partners to tell them “we know what you’re feeling.” How can you possibly know?

What else do consumers want from their financial partners and the companies they do business with?

  • They want guidance. Give them information on how to take advantage of government loan programs. Share your knowledge about the CARES Act and its impact on consumers.
  • They want to know that companies are helping the greater good. They want to know you are doing things to support the community and want to see you reflect their same values. They want companies to avoid layoffs and provide safe working conditions for employees.
  • They want advice. After the market correction, expected rates of return for bonds have fallen, but some outlooks for US and international stocks post correction have increased. Some investors are actually looking for advice on what to do and where to find opportunities – what sectors will do better now given the crisis?

Logica’s study also explored several of the implications for financial products and services. Expect an increase in technologies that improve the ease and speed of payments and money transfers. There could also be an acceleration of emergency savings options such as those connected to employer sponsored 401(k) retirement plans.

When is it time to start talking with your customers about topics unrelated to the pandemic? For some, it might be a welcome relief to start hearing from you on other topics. However, it is still a best practice to address, acknowledge and relate empathetically to the ongoing crisis.

For the full study, Logica offers an e-book here.