The Occupy Wall Street protesters are camped out a few blocks away from our offices. At first, I thought it was ironic that they were rallying against "the man" so close to where all of our magazines and newspapers drone on about finance and best practices. So close yet so far.
But they lingered. Week after week they stayed, securing their place on the national stage. I walked through it and saw it myself a few days ago. The area I saw was much cleaner and a tad more organized than I expected, although the messages were mixed. General outrage aimed at no one in particular. Whatever you were mad at, you could find solidarity. Some of the signs had several paragraphs of text, so it was hard to tell what they were mad at. But they were mad.
And the people surprised me too. They weren't the ragtag group of students and loafers some have portrayed. Well, some were, but others looked squarely middle class. (A few were wearing ties, and this was on a Saturday.)
And it struck me: The collision of general anger, middle class and us droning on about best practices. Is this general angst something bank advisors may be facing at work?
Your clients may not be the kind to march into police barricades, but are you sure they don't harbor some of the same resentment? To many of them, you're probably the face of the financial industry. So even if you don't work for one of the big banks that had to be bailed out, you may well be on the receiving end of any lingering anger and distrust.
If you haven't talked to them yet, now is the time. For people who are willing to listen and really understand the economy's problems, (i.e., your clients) education is the key. Education has often been the message in many of the stories we've written over the years, but it's never been more important than it is now. Make sure your clients understand the problems as well as the solutions that you've put in place in their portfolios. Start talking. Otherwise, you just may see them on the news marching on City Hall.