Tuesday's market downturn may have rattled some nerves on Wall Street, but bank brokers say that if they do their job, their customers shouldn't be dashing for the exits.
"We really haven't seen any concern yet because we try to manage expectations up front," said John R. Irwin, president of the securities arm of Comerica Inc. in Detroit.
That means using customer profiling and disclosure to detect possible short-term volatility, Mr. Irwin said. Fueled by interest rate concerns and tax-related selling, Tuesday's market manifested just such volatility - the Nasdaq composite plummeted 5.55%, to 3,901.69, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.17%, to 10,997.93.
Brokerages say that when problems do occur, they emphasize client contact and long-term goals.
"If there's any turmoil, we call the customer," said Rob Comfort, senior managing director of the brokerage arm of Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, Ohio. "People want their broker to reassure them that everything's O.K., and that's what we do."
"In instances like this, if we get calls we circle back to the original conversation," reminding customers of the "erratic, volatile nature" of the market, said Charles F. Wright, president of Crestar Securities Corp. in Richmond, Va., a subsidiary of Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc.
"The most important thing is to be available," he said. "People get nervous when they can't talk to someone."
Some brokers even viewed the downturn in a positive light.
"We use the opportunity when the market comes down to do more buying than selling," said Fred A. Bellero, assistant vice president of investments at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray in San Francisco, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp.
However, some handholding is necessary, Mr. Bellero said. "We try to contact as many clients as we can during times of market turmoil to let them know we're here at the switch. That's one thing full-service brokers can do that on-line can't - it's really our opportunity to shine."