Q: What did you learn about your clients during the financial crisis?
A: Every adviser I talked to was having panicked phone calls left, right and sideways. I must have the world's best clients. I did not get one panicked phone call at any time through 2008 and 2009 ... which surprised the hell out of me. Nobody freaked out. Nobody screamed at me. Nobody fired me.
I wrote my all-time favorite letter to clients in early 2009. I told them: “The crisis reminded me of air raid drills we had when I was in grade school. We hid under our desks. I looked up and wondered how much protection a desk would give me from a nuclear bomb. If we have an economic collapse, we're all in trouble, and there's no place to hide. If we do get out of it, there was nothing to be overly alarmed about. It's more fun when the market goes up than when it goes down. These things happen.”
We got a lot closer to a collapse than any of us would have liked to think was possible. There are things we can't control. Panic is rarely a useful course of action. I learned to have faith in my clients. In the next [crisis], I know that I can trust my clients to do their part.
Director of Planning
Creative Financial Concepts LLC
— as told to Mark Schoeff Jr.