Advisers will make or break their reputations depending on what they say to their clients during the coronavirus crisis, a financial services marketing support group has said.

Yardstick Agency, which works with 175 UK advice firms, has issued a guide to help advisers communicate more effectively during this global pandemic.

In light of stock market volatility and global uncertainty around the coronavirus, advisers have had an influx of calls and emails about what they should do with their money.

“There’s another group of people who, despite your best efforts in the past, will panic and consider selling everything. Helping people to make tough, and often counterintuitive, decisions is where you will add value.”

Yardstick Agency founding director Phil Bray said the report was constructed in response to the growing anxiety of investors in recent weeks.

“We know many investors will be anxious right now,” he said. “Even those who have a long-term relationship with their financial adviser or planner might be concerned. We also know that this is an incredibly busy time for many advisers/planners as they plan for the effects coronavirus.”

Yardstick’s research concluded that clients would be looking to advisers for a safe pair of hands, with many concerned about not having enough money to live their preferred lifestyle in retirement.

“Some will simply want information. Others need reassurance and an injection of confidence that their plan remains on track despite the current stock market volatility,” Bray said in the report.

“There’s another group of people who, despite your best efforts in the past, will panic and consider selling everything. Helping people to make tough, and often counterintuitive, decisions is where you will add value.

“How you communicate in the coming weeks and months will either enhance your reputation or significantly damage it. There’s probably no middle ground.”

He stressed the importance of keeping communication up to date, particularly in this fast-moving environment, and segmented into different groups so it can be targeted to the right clients.

According to the report, client prospects are “likely to be at risk of making knee-jerk, emotionally-driven decisions which could cost them dearly in the long term”.

“If you’re the person who provides the necessary information, confidence and reassurance, it’s you they will turn to when seeking professional advice,” Bray told advisers.

An emphasis on email, video communication, social media and websites featured in the report, with the shift away from face-to-face interaction caused by the coronavirus. The report can be found here.

This article originally appeared on Professional Adviser on 16 March 2020.