The world that we knew no longer exists. The world that is coming, that we are living through right now, will be the new normal. 

You can move forward with confidence in this brave new world. 

How might you ask?

What can we do to effectively break free from the confusion and chaos of the COVID-19 crisis? 

How can financial brands move forward and guide people in the communities they serve with confidence in this brave new world?

Courage.

Courage is More Important Now Than Ever

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens oneself. Courage is commitment and strength in the face of pain or grief. Courage, just like this virus, is contagious. 

"Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little bit better and the world a little bit braver." - Brene Brown

Our courage is what will determine the choices we make, both personally and professionally, in the weeks, the months, and even the years to come. 

How do you Effectively Communicate Courage in a Time of Chaos, Fear, and Confusion?

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. 

No matter how carefully we plan for the future, things change. We are seeing that now more than ever before. Our world has been rocked by the exponential spread of COVID-19 throughout the world. The virus has impacted all of us. As a result and simply put, our plans must change.

Personally, I planned to launch a podcast right as COVID-19 was beginning to spread around the globe. The production on this podcast started in early 2020. We had 10 episodes already recorded and ready, thinking we were going to get ahead of the game and then COVID took the world by storm. The episodes we had recorded no longer made sense as they lacked context. I also had to delay the release of Banking on Digital Growth about six weeks in order to gain clarity around what was going on. 

Plans change. 

We strive for safety. We seek solace in the secure. We cling to comfort and normalcy. 

But What is Scarier Than Change?

Complacency. 

Complacency is a killer in a world of exponential change. I am very empathetic to the fact that one of our primal human fears is the fear of change. Change on a scale that many of us have never experienced before is at the heart of everything going on right now. COVID-19 is forcing all of us to change. 

The way we act, the way we think, the way we learn, the way we eat, the way we communication, the way we socialize, and for you, the way we lead our financial brands forward into the great unknown with courage. 

By this point, COVID-19 has impacted almost every person around the globe in some form or fashion. Working mothers become teachers and traditional retail businesses and restaurants  have either gone digital or have been closed for good. 

The Future is Still Bright

Now is a critical time for financial brands. We’ve already started to see the conversation move from the COVID-19 health crisis to the COVID-19 financial health crisis. 

At this moment in time, healthcare workers on the frontline are in the midst of their “Super Bowl moment.” This is what they have been training for and why they do what they do. We must be ready for our “Super Bowl moment” to step up with courage to guide people in the communities they serve. 

Now is the time for financial brands to redeem themselves and make exponential deposits into a consumers mental trust fund that sits between their ears.  And these deposits will pay great dividends for decades to come when banks and credit unions are there to help people during their greatest times of need. 

We saw many community banks and credit unions step up to bridge the gap with the Paycheck Protection Program, while many of the larger institutions struggle to fulfill the demand showing little care of empathy for that matter.

There are more than 80 million jobs at stake. 

Moody’s Analytics predicts that 27 million workers are at a risk for high disruption. There are another 52 million jobs that are at “moderate” risk. 

Those that lose their jobs will have challenges finding new ones. We are in a hiring freeze. We will see more people commit to the company of one and the opportunities it presents for individuals as well as financial brands. According to the Brookings Institution, 17 million people have filed initial claims for unemployment insurance over the past few weeks. 

The unemployment rate has raised over 15% which is well above the rate at the height of the great recession. The negative impacts felt in the business sector, both public and private, as an owner or an employee, will trickle down into the personal financial sector resulting in what I’m calling the “COVID-19 financial health crisis.”

There are new Opportunities Ahead

All of these challenges create new opportunities for financial brands to guide consumers beyond their fears and financial stress. There are new opportunities to provide them with clarity in the midst of confusion and bestow courage in this time of crisis. 

People are looking for two things: Help and hope. 

And hope, more often than not, must come long before help.

That’s why courage, just like the virus, is contagious. 

How do you confidently communicate courage to people and businesses within the communities that you serve? How do you do this during what might feel like the darkest period that any one of us have ever experienced? How do you communicate courage when you are no longer able to see people face-to-face?

Step 1. 

Courageously lead others through this time of crisis. You must take care of yourself first. Put your own oxygen mask on first. This includes your internal teams, account holders, and communities at large. This will require some creative thinking, more so now that we are remote. 

Step 2. 

Communicate with your teams, consumers, and small business owners to provide a sense of calm during this time of chaos. Financial products and services are already an inherently complex subject matter that has been amplified because of the COVID-19 crisis. It is our job as leaders to simplify the complexity, specifically the digital user experience. Reduce the cognitive load. Light the path forward with the next best steps and action items that people can take based upon their unique situation. Take a proactive stance in their life. Don’t be reactive. Don't wait for them to raise their hand asking for help. By that time it is probably too late. 

Step 3. 

Commit to confidently coach others during this time of conflict. Ask good questions. Provide and extend empathy. Increase your emotional intelligence. Do not forget about the human connection even if communication is primarily digital. All of this will become exponentially more important ahead. I do not see this crisis going away any time soon. If you ask good questions, you can dive deeper into their own situation and identify ways to help them they may have never thought about before. Once someone feels like they have been understood, then, and only then, do you have permission to make recommendations to guide them beyond their stress towards a bigger, better, and brighter future.

Move Forward With Courage

Courage. 

Courage is contagious. 

I encourage you to move forward. 

I encourage you to lead others around you, your team, brand, and community with courage into the unknown.

In the weeks and months to come, a choice must be made for you and for your team.

The choice to do the right thing. 

You are not alone in this journey. We are all in this together. And together, I guarantee you, we will make it through because better days are ahead. We will just have to work a little bit harder to get there. 

I believe in you.