By: Daniel C. Finley

Managing Uncertainty

In the financial services industry few things are certain; more times than not uncertainty is the norm. The one thing that you can count on is that if you don’t manage how you react to uncertainty, uncertainty will end up managing you.  Being emotionally tethered to events that are out of your control can never be a productive way to run your business.

So, what are some ways you can intervene during uncertain times or unforeseen circumstances to become better balanced with your action/reaction(s)?

Step #1: Determine the Reality of a Situation

Most of the time, when an advisor is faced with wondering what might happen, with the market, the economy, a difficult client et al, advisors tend to distort or exaggerate their view or possible outcome. It is very easy to focus on negativity because when your anxiety is high, equally are your concerns. Soon those anxieties and concerns multiply into additional thoughts that can spiral out of control. When this occurs it is vital to simply stop and ask yourself this question, “What is the reality of the situation?” It is important to try and stay emotionally neutral when answering this question and you may be surprised to find that the actual reality isn’t so bad.

Step #2: Determine Your Desired Outcome and What You Can Control

The second step in this process is to be crystal clear on what you want the end result to be. If you don’t determine your desired outcome, you more than likely won’t find it. Once you have done this you must also examine what is in your control and what is not. For example: your desire to have a client get better returns. Now, what is in your control? Can you control the market, their risk tolerance or their ultimate decision to invest in your recommendations? No, however you can decide to give them the best possible advice based on all of the information and expertise that you can provide.

Step #3: Take Action and Track Your Progress

The third step is to take action! Map out your plan and execute that plan right away. There is something to be said about the saying, “action alleviates anxiety”.  The way to sustain this momentum is to keep focusing on your activities by tracking your progress.

Managing Uncertainty Example:

Maybe you have a number of clients concerned about the market, you know that the market is out of your control, but you also know that you want them to feel at ease. So, you read your company’s weekly market commentary as well as economic reports. Then, you translate what you have read into laymen’s terms and begin calling as many clients as possible to explain to them what is going on. Finally, you track how many client contacts you are making each day. Soon you will realize that your clients are happier just knowing that you are taking the time to connect with them and they will appreciate that you are attempting to assuage their fears/concerns!

Now, think about the aforementioned example and compare it to that last time you found yourself emotionally distraught over uncertainty then ask yourself this, “What type of advisor would your clients rather work with—the one who let’s uncertainty manage him/her or the one who takes control of uncertainty as best as possible?” I am confident you know the answer!

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