Learning how to handle stressed clients

Deal with clients at tense moments in their lives requires first-hand experience

Oct 5, 2014 @ 12:01 am

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

In her first 10 weeks in the financial advice profession, Amanda Moore learned that advisers deal with clients at tense moments in their lives.

Ms. Moore, 23, a resident in financial planning at Cornerstone Wealth Advisors in Edina, Minn., is often the first person clients speak to when they call the firm. Sometimes they're in emotional upheaval over a traumatic event.

“You have to be the one that's composed and not stressed out,” Ms. Moore said. “I've learned to comfort them. I've tried to understand the facts and slowly go through the process with them before getting their adviser on the phone. I've developed a lot of personal relationship skills.”

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Since InvestmentNews last talked to Ms. Moore in June, she has been given more latitude by her supervisors and works on her own on tasks such as tax projections.

“It's a little more independent, which is scary at times,” Ms. Moore said.

She's also honed her ability to multitask. She may have to juggle three incoming phone calls and a dozen e-mails while placing trades. Sometimes she fumbles, such as making a trade for 100 shares instead of $100.

The experience has taught her the importance of attention to detail, a skill she thought she had mastered at Virginia Tech, where she earned a degree in finance with a financial planning specialization.

“Nine out of 10 times, I made a mistake when I was rushing,” Ms. Moore said. “I've learned about changing from the classroom to the professional world and what that means. I'm used to the standard of X and now the standard is Y.”

Her bosses are understanding and know that she's learning, Ms. Moore said.

She's also become a valuable conduit to Cornerstone's next generation of investors. She has sat in on a number of client meetings that focused on their children. She is like an older sister who can connect with them about finances in a way that a lecturing parent can't.

“I really enjoy working with young people who haven't started their financial lives,” Ms. Moore said. “There's a lot of opportunity to teach people about personal finance and help create good habits.”

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