Communication Matters

Bad News Calls for Great Writing


Bad News Calls for Great Writing


When times are good, client reporting is easy. But when portfolios underperform, markets turn bearish, or key holdings run into trouble, clients get anxious. Communicating bad news takes finesse, and investment firms who do it well build lasting client relationships.

The first rule for communicating bad news: stay calm. Your clients will take their cues from you, and in fact they are looking for reasons to stick with you. To help them do so confidently:

  • Be honest. Don’t try to spin or minimize problems. Clients need to hear that you understand their worries.
  • Provide context. Draw attention to longer-term trends.
  • Show the path forward. Identify opportunities to show clients you’re thinking ahead. Remember – this isn’t about your reputation, it’s about your plan.

Once you’ve addressed the specifics, be sure to recap your core message. Remind clients of the values at the heart of your investment strategies. These messages need to be familiar – consistent in good times and bad.

Planning ahead makes bad news a lot easier to handle. Remember that:

  • Market downturns happen. Ensure that your communication program is prepared to deal with adversity by establishing your key messages during the good times.
  • Consistency and steadiness are key. If you haven’t been doing a good job of communicating your core messages on a regular basis, start now.

Purcell Communications can work with you to identify your firm’s core messages, values, and investment principles. We’ll help you create tools to consistently communicate your messages.