At Greenleaf Trust, we believe we best serve our clients – and each other – when we express empathy for each other. Director of Personal Trust Wendy Cox stresses the importance of this as we continue to work from home and how we express this to our clients with Bizwomen:

As our communities reopen, women across America see their lives becoming more complicated as they juggle responsibilities at home and at work (which is often still at home), caring for coworkers, customers and family. Empathy is the key Wendy Cox’s wealth management business, especially during these difficult times.

“Empathy and mindfulness are not the first words you think of when talking about wealth management, but they are essential to both my team and our clients. As we continue to work from home, one of the biggest challenges facing our high-achieving, highly motivated team is how to separate work and family, and not work 24/7. We also need to accommodate flexible schedules to allow team members who have childcare/child learning responsibilities to do what they need to do. All these obstacles require empathy on the part of leaders like me, compassion for our teammates, and taking a moment to BREATHE.

We have been preaching self-care to our team. We make sure we take vacation time, get exercise, and avoid screen fatigue wherever possible. We have also instructed that you don’t have to respond to emails after hours or on weekends, but if you need to send one because that is what works better for your personal schedule, that is fine too. As a leader, it also requires relentless calm, positivity, and reassuring team members that as a team we will figure this out. For myself, yoga and meditation are a way to calm the spinning mind and take the opportunity to BREATHE.

All these principles also apply to our client service and helping our clients navigate their financial lives. This is more than managing money. This is helping them work through everyday life events which have not stopped during the pandemic.

Empathy also helps in forging new relationships because prospective clients feel that you are genuinely interested in them and that you are listening to their goals and concerns. Other providers aren’t even calling. All clients want to feel that you are genuinely concerned for the issues that concern them rather than pushing your agenda.

So, we continue to ask ourselves: how do we help the surviving spouse, who did not handle the finances, determine how to handle her financial life, and maintain strong relationships with her stepchildren? How do we help older clients, who aren’t well versed in technology, communicate with us and with others? How do we help a mother who is worried about her children using money as an excuse to not go to school, or work? And how do we help our clients BREATHE?

We do it by being the problem solvers that we have always been. There are just new problems to solve.

We can send a team member to a client’s home appropriately masked and distanced, to assist with technology. We can pass documents through a car window to get them signed. We can help the surviving spouse by drawing pictures of how the assets pass to her and her children. We can meet with young people who are finding their way and support the parent in helping them see the value of education and work. We can be mindful of the challenges our clients are facing, take a moment with them, and help them BREATHE.

I have always believed we serve each other best when we walk a mile in each other’s shoes. The past few months are a constant reminder of this.