“Treat clients like you want to be treated yourself”, “put yourself in the client’s position”, “treat client investments as if they were your own”. These are all phrases that are often thrown about by companies operating in the financial services industry. As the saying goes, it’s not rocket science, but it is easy to say these things and fail to do them.
The ability to do these things often sets an entity apart from its peers. Particularly when dealing with uncomfortable or difficult subjects, or when a client is in a vulnerable state, perhaps due to failing investments, divorce or the death of their partner. Such events are tough to deal with at the best of times, let alone having to throw pension rules and regulations into the mix. If ever there are times to take a step back from standard operational protocols, it is these.
Sometimes a conversation with one of our clients demands that the pensions stuff is effectively a post-script to the bulk of the conversation. Such was the case recently when I spoke with a long-standing client whose husband had sadly passed away. The demands of running their business meant that we could not have an appropriate conversation within normal working hours. Instead, we arranged to talk in the evening when a cup of tea could be made in the comfortable surroundings of home.
Some people will shy away from such conversations given the sensitive subject matter, however all that is required is empathy and the ability to explain complex matters in a respectful and comprehendible way. I won’t say the conversation was easy, but the very least I could do was treat our client with basic courtesy and to share the understanding of what it feels like to lose someone close to you. We spoke for about an hour and only about ten minutes of that was anything to do with pensions.
We have clients who have divorced and clients whose investments have not performed as they expected or planned. Again, the keys to discharging our duty of care is sensitivity, an appreciation of the importance of the matter to our client and the provision of easily understandable information, sensitively imparted.
Putting people in space is the only thing that is truly rocket science, treating clients with understanding, courtesy and respect is a basic responsibility, often underestimated by others but never knowingly under-provided by us at PSG. It really is important for us to be trusted on the important matters.