How to support clients out of isolation
A house too full…. or too empty
The biggest impact of the pandemic lockdown for many of us was leaving our workplaces and being based at home. With children off school and family members placed on furlough, our own homes perhaps became a crowded and noisy place! However, for clients who live alone, or in remote areas, the lockdown created an almost unprecedented isolation. With the restrictions easing and shielding ending we’re able to meet up with friends and relatives again. However, some clients may feel anxious and continue to keep their distance and stay away from others.
This isolation has been particularly prevalent amongst the older members of society. Those of pension age, living alone, may have relied on shopping trips or activity groups for social interaction. Without these avenues they might have found themselves alone for days, or even weeks, at a time with only a minimum of human contact.
Keeping in touch
Many advisers have said their focus is on looking after their existing clients*. They may have worries about their investments or retirement income due to market volatility, but not want to “bother” you.
So what can you do? Make sure they know you’re still available whenever they need you. It might not be possible for them to visit, but they can phone, text or email just as they always have. Sending a quick message suggesting a chat can give clients the reminder they need to stay in touch. Or be proactive and schedule regular calls to a client, for a quick check-in and catch up.
If you have tech-savvy clients, can you arrange regular video chats? Even seeing a face on a screen can help alleviate those feelings of isolation. People respond far more positively to seeing the face of the person they’re talking to, as opposed to just listening to their voice. It’s also a great way of reading someone’s body language - communication can often be more about what’s not being said.
If your clients aren’t comfortable with computers, could you talk them through how to set up a video call? If they just prefer face to face chats, how about arranging to meet at their local park or a café with outside tables? You can maintain social distancing whilst still keeping in contact.
Easing the isolation
As lockdown measures continue to ease there are more opportunities for everyone to get out and about. For some, perhaps the elderly or vulnerable in particular, their home has become their “safe space” and they may be unsure about leaving it. Whilst staying healthy remains the top priority, it’s worth reminding your clients that human interaction (even from a safe distance) can be a major benefit to physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Going for a walk together, sitting on a park bench for a chat, or even meeting in their favourite coffee shop – human contact can make all the difference in the world.
*Panacea Adviser Covid Survey, April 2020