Keep calm and communicate

The value of content in tough times

It was in June 2008 that I joined the marketing department at large wealth management firm. Barely three months later, the world had changed. Investors endured significant portfolio declines in the following weeks, and financial advisors, wealth management firms and other financial services companies scrambled to pick up the pieces.

But as a professional communicator and content creator working in the financial services industry, I was in a good position to help.

Keep calm and communicate

One of the things that came out of the 2008 financial crisis was a growing interest in emotional intelligence. Investors desperately needed to talk with their financial advisors, and many were unsure about how to approach those conversations.

Our team created a campaign to help financial advisors focus on the next 10 years—rather than the ‘lost decade’ of the prior 10 years. We started with a big hero initiative: a thought leadership asset that included both the rational and emotional case for staying calm and staying the course.

The rational case provided statistics on how markets have bounced back after every major downturn, while the emotional case gave advisors tools and tips on how to engage clients and have the right kinds of conversations that tapped into advisors’ EQ.

We packaged and distributed that thought leadership content across a range of channels (website content hubs, email, intranet), and equipped them with a range of sales enablement tools.

In practice, this meant creating pre-approved, formatted client-ready emails that advisors could just send out. And we developed a central website hub for advisors to visit, armed with the latest themes for the week and product materials. It was a full-funnel content strategy, before the term ‘funnel’ was even in common use.

These were all vitally important content strategies and tactics as part of the huge task of convincing clients not to do something that would work against their best interest—namely selling at the wrong time.

The power of strong relationships

Four years later, I joined an asset management firm famous for being selective about the advisors they worked with. Out went the ‘hot money’ approach, in favor of fee-based advisors who shared their long-term philosophy of investing.

In my first week of onboarding meetings, one of the senior executives showed me a line graph. It plotted the firms’ AUM from 2008 to 2012 against industry-wide AUM of asset management firms broadly. Their line curved up, while the industry line curved down. Their business model, the advisors they worked with and the job those advisors did managing client expectations before, during and after the 2008 crash made all the difference. It was clear evidence to me of the value of advice and the power of strong relationships of trust forged over time.

That’s a powerful story, and good content is the enabling mechanism that helps to communicate that story efficiently and effectively.

At a time when virtually all our communication is virtual, digital content has become even more important as a way to engage and help care for clients. As a content creator, I feel a renewed sense of responsibility and purpose. Content will have to step up even more in the weeks and months ahead to become a key part of the ties that bind.

Matt Garrison

Matt Garrison

Matt has 25 years of experience in marketing roles for asset managers, wealth managers and investment banks, as well as agency roles helping financial brands connect with their clients. Matt brings substantial knowledge of the industry as well as investment and retirement products across institutional and retail audiences. As a Senior Content Strategist based in New York, Matt develops content strategy, assets and activation strategies for a wide range of financial brands.