The 4 P's

Discussing Politics as a Financial Advisor

We’re about 40 days from Election Day.  Depending on your perspective, you may be feeling:

  • “Wow, that’s coming up pretty quick.”
  • “I can’t believe we still have 40 days to go.”
  • “I can’t wait until it’s here.”

Of course, two people can have the same sentiment even if they are supporters of opposing parties.

With the first presidential debate scheduled for Tuesday, September 29, the election coverage is going to increase even further.

What should financial advisors and planners do when a client or potential client brings up political topics?  Since it’s in the news and has a potential impact on the markets, is it ok to discuss or is it too hot to handle?

Use the 4-P method to determine the best way to proceed.

  1. When in doubt, PUNT. If you aren’t comfortable discussing politics or have a different perspective from your client or prospective client, look to change the topic as quickly as you can.  A recent study from Hartford Funds found that 44% of investors would consider switching financial professionals if they didn’t align on political views.  By engaging in a discussion, you’re taking a risk.  Additionally, clients who have the same political viewpoint as you may see you as an ally and will look to discuss politics at every opportunity.
  2. Be PREPARED by paying attention to what’s currently in the news. Even if you are not a political junkie, make sure you watch the debates, stay informed about key issues and know your local candidates and initiatives.
  3. Focus on POLICY not PERSONALITIES. Today’s political environment is filled with polarizing individuals.  Rather than talk about what this person or that person is doing, it’s safer to stick to discussing the policies rather than people.
  4. Be POSITIVE. There’s more than enough negativity going around; you certainly don’t need to add to it.  Instead, share perspective and optimism about the country as a whole.  You can highlight recent bright spots or simply point out that every generation faces great tests such as wars, famine, and illness but the United States has continued to thrive.

Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, progressive, conservative, libertarian or something else, your clients are counting on you for quality financial advice.  Follow the 4 P’s and help them stay on course.

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