With the holidays upon us, we in the financial services business are wrapping up what has been a stellar year in the markets. We have seen double-digit gains in equities indices while managing a difficult fixed income environment. 2016 will be remembered always for the election of Donald Trump as our 45th President after a contentious and often ugly campaign.
Some of our clients come to the end of the year with more blessings and successes than they can name. This was the year that some welcomed a new grandchild or saw a daughter or son graduate. Others fell in love, got engaged, and now anticipate a joyous 2017 wedding celebration. In our practice, a long-awaited retirement finally arrived and is already off to a great start.
But some of our clients are struggling this month with what has been called the holiday blues. And we as advisors would be wise to dial into their struggle. The next three weeks are important times for you to reach out to those for whom this season of light may be very difficult.
Who might you help this Holiday season?
- Clients who have lost a parent, a spouse, a child, a sibling, or a pet
- Those who lost jobs or are faced with significant financial loss
- Anyone dealing with a terminal illness or his/her caregiver
- Clients who experienced a loss of vitality this year due to a health crisis
There might be many situations your clients are facing right now that cloud the holiday spirit others around them are feeling. The holiday blues is not some construct created by the psychoanalytic community. Many in our midst – it could be you or a colleague in the office – struggle with what is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” Keep in mind there are ways to help them through their pain.
Reach out with a telephone call
We live in a mobile environment. Communication has evolved to texts, emails, and instant messages on social media platforms. However, lacking in each of those means is the human voice. There is much to be said for the healing benefits of a calming, loving voice. Call your client and speak out what you believe to be their struggle. “George, I know this has been a tough year for you. [And then say what that tough issue has been: “Your wife passed away” or “You lost your job” or “You’ve faced a brutal illness, cancer or _______.”] “I want you to know you’re in my thoughts this holiday season.” That’s all to say; then listen and let them respond.
Write a handwritten note
The demise of the handwritten note has been well chronicled. Nothing connects with someone like seeing a hand-addressed note in the mailbox and reading an encouraging few sentences from a friend. Drop your client a handwritten note sharing warm sentiments gleaned from your relationship. They will never forget that gesture of care.
Donate to charity
This is the season for giving. Consider making a charitable donation in memory of your client’s lost relative. Such generosity says you remember their pain and acknowledge their loss. As a bonus, you are doing something positive to make our society better.
The holiday blues are a reality in many lives. As advisors, we can respond to the people we serve in these simple but touching ways to communicate our care and let them know they are not alone in their struggle. Wherever you find yourself during these next weeks, I pray you discover moments of lasting joy, making, and sharing good memories with those you love and who love you.