With varied coronavirus messaging from local and national government officials mixed with a lack of national testing preparedness, the stock market continues to plunge and government bond yields have fallen to historic lows. At Corporate Insight, we’ve been closely monitoring financial services customer communication strategies around COVID-19, which the World Health Organization has declared is now a global pandemic.

Real World Examples of Financial Services Customer Communications around COVID-19

In the investing space, asset managers are communicating mostly through email and site commentary, providing analysis on the virus’s impact on markets and offering advisors talking points to discuss the issue with clients. Brokerages, financial advisors and digital advice firms were all active in client outreach, sending perspectives from CIOs and analysts that describe the economic impacts of COVID-19 alongside messages designed to alleviate concerns about volatility.

While a large segment of messaging encouraged clients to keep calm and stay invested, a few in the banking sector pivoted a bit. A large bank we track through our competitive research services emailed clients and encouraged them to use its “smart savings tools” and open a CD to lock in rates. One of the stranger communications we’ve seen in our tracking came from a NY-based federal credit union, which encouraged clients to “avoid stock market panic” and come in for a “no-cost, no-obligation consultation”—an invitation they will presumably rescind as New York cases have begun to mount.

Many investing firms employed a signed letter-from-the-top approach, with emails written by CEOs, CIOs and co-founders. For example, Stash sent a letter signed by its CEO-co-founder that offers boilerplate caution about markets going up and down but then specifically suggests using Stash’s Your Mix product, “a diversified grouping of bonds that are global” and to use its Stash Way, a dollar-cost-averaging-style feature that invests small amounts on a regular basis.

Client Email from SigFig CIO

Client Email from SigFig CIO

SigFig sent a letter from its CIO that suggests, “If you have a taxable account with us, consider turning on our tax-loss harvesting feature,” and then notes that the current market drop may be a good time to invest more.

Financial Services Customer Communication from SigFig CIO

Client Email from SigFig CIO

Columbia Threadneedle argued that economic impacts will likely be temporary, while T. Rowe Price warns that “near-term volatility could persist despite stabilization of the outbreak in China” and that investors should keep a long-term perspective.

Clients of Vanguard Personal Advisor Services received a lengthy email summarizing economic effects reverberating from China and notes, “As a Personal Advisor client, it helps to remember that we’ve already factored market volatility into your financial plan by creating a diversified portfolio based on your specific long-term goals. And we’ve taken into account thousands of market scenarios, including worse ones than we are currently experiencing.” While encouraging investors to stay calm and ride out the turmoil, the email does note, “If there’s a prolonged event in the market that knocks your portfolio off target, we’ll rebalance it for you using a disciplined and unemotional approach that is tailored to your situation.”

VPAS Customer Communication

VPAS Client Email

Acorns has leveraged its partnership with CNBC to provide a collection of pieces ranging from a video message from Acorns’s CEO, “Every stock market downturn has ended in an upturn,” to a recap of former CNBC personality and current Director of National Economic Council Larry Kudlow’s comments contradicting both the CDC and WHO by declaring about COVID-19, “We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight.”

How Corporate Insight Fits In with Your Customer Communication Strategy

At Corporate Insight, we conduct daily financial industry competitive research (within 14 verticals) and provide competitive audits on customer experience and marketing trends. Corporate Insight will continue to report on all crisis messaging in our coverage groups. Within our Monitor Research Services, we offer regular short-form update reports that include all new digital messaging. Our clients will also soon have access to a special authenticated site section that compiles all messaging on the coronavirus and how it pertains to the customer experience from across our tracked industries to give a holistic view of the response to the pandemic.

Get in touch to discuss how Corporate Insight can help you develop the Financial Services Customer Communication Strategy.