Help! Our Performance is Tanking

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

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Dear Bev,

Lately the markets have been concerning to many of our clients. Some of our funds have underperformed, although we tout our ability to “not lose as much when the market goes down.” But we’ve lost way more than the market has over the last few weeks in a few of our strategies.

Clients are here for more than these funds. My own client book is not suffering defections, but I’m hearing from some of our younger team members they are having a hard time telling a story that defends what we’re doing. I’m not sure it is our role to defend poor performance – our investment team makes decisions and some of those are better than others. But overall we give our clients a well-rounded wealth management experience.

I’m trying to teach the younger team members not to focus on performance and to engage in relationship building. But most every one of them comes from a finance background and gets stuck in the numbers. I was a psychologist in a prior life and came to financial work in my mid-40s, about 15 years ago. I don’t see the discussion as numbers based; I see it as behavioral and emotional. I am going to guess you will agree with me and you probably work with other people like my team members. How do I help them understand they are only hurting themselves sticking to this approach? As an aside I have not lost one dollar in assets during this time. My clients call and say, “You will let us know if there is anything we should know.” I believe my philosophy is proven to work but I can’t get others to listen to me.