Clang! Clang! Clang! When the klaxon goes off on a ship and “General Quarters, General Quarters, all hands man your battle stations” sounds over the ship’s public speaker, US Navy sailors do not lose control. They stop whatever they are doing and move as quickly and safely as they can to their assigned battle stations.
If you’ve ever watched a Hollywood war movie, you know what I mean. And Hollywood does a good job of showing what it is like to be in a crisis situation. Everyone on the ship trains for these types of emergencies, because at some point, every ship must “go to battle stations.” Anxiety runs high for newer sailors just getting adjusted to shipboard life. But they learn quickly what to do, thanks in part to the “old salts” on board—the experienced sailors who help them get up to speed.
In our industry, we don’t need to worry about incoming missiles or shipboard fires, but we do have to contend with market volatility and worried clients who require immediate attention. Those of us who have been through turbulent times may have learned a few things to help ourselves and our clients manage a crisis. But it’s certainly been a while since we’ve had to execute our “Damage Control Plan” (to borrow a term from the US Navy).
So what can we do today to make the situation more bearable for our clients? How can we help junior personnel in our firms manage their first financial crisis? If you’re not sure, let me share a few lessons I’ve learned over my 30-year Navy career and during the 30 years I’ve spent in the financial services business.