My Client’s Son is a Deadbeat

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

Have people gone crazy? A client called me this week from the hospital. She is 76 years old, was in reasonably good shape but was pushed down in a stairwell because she was not wearing a mask bringing groceries to a neighbor. This woman is a “salt of the earth” and has several million dollars with me, but she volunteers and helps others all of the time. She called just to let me know what had happened. In the event any portfolio decisions needed to be made, she wanted me to know she could be reached but not at her home. She will recover, but she was very shaken up by the event and hurt badly with the emotional and physical impact.

Craziness has taken over. I can’t do much about the general population, but I should be doing something to help my clients deal with the stress and upset of this time. I am at a loss as to what to do. Of course we continue to manage their portfolios and provide planning, but are there other things you are hearing from advisors that we could consider?


Dear M.J.,

I agree with your sentiment. The most important thing any of us can do right now is to be a voice of reason and refuse to engage in some of the craziness that is rolling around. You can’t fix things on a broad scale, but yes there are some things you could do to help your clients during these times. Consider….

  1. If you could find a good book on stress during difficult times or learning yoga or meditation and send to your clients as a gift. I have one client who has been sending books via Amazon (hard copies) and also sending links to online books. He has been very thoughtful about what books to send, the notes that accompany them and which clients need them. He is getting a very good response to this. Clients notice the care and appreciate it.
  1. Choosing a couple of charities you believe in and that are doing great things during the pandemic. There are many ways to be of direct help to those in need. Make a contribution on behalf of your clients (not by name for confidentiality, but as a group) and then write a nice note letting them know you are doing this and why. Include in the note your perspective that people need to be more supportive of one another and tell them if they want to discuss ideas to do this more broadly, you are open to discuss with them.
  1. Holding a webinar or Zoom meeting on a health or emotional related topic. I recently recommended to a client to have a nutrition expert join – many people are putting on the “quarantine 15 pounds” and need help minimizing sugar intake or making good choices while in a limited mode. Have a therapist join to talk about coping mechanisms during this time. Ask clients to come and share their best ideas.
  1. Changing your messaging to reflect your support of everyone during this time. Have a block on your website, or include a few lines in emails that go out about the market conditions or have a conference call to talk about your perspective. Sometimes it feels good just to think you are doing something and contributing to the audience you do have captive!

All of these ideas will depend on your client base. You know your clients and what they will find appealing versus intrusive. Segment your clients and perhaps do some of these things with a portion of them, but not all of them.

It is important for you to do something, so consider what fits you the best.