Across the country, stay-at-home restrictions are gradually being lifted, but with new limitations and guidelines. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the financial, physical and emotional well-being of so many. It has also reshaped how financial advisors and their clients interact. The move toward advisors leveraging technology in many areas was gaining traction before the lockdown. Now that trend has accelerated into overdrive.
As we gingerly ease our way into a new way of being in society, what are the positive things that may come out of this dreadful pandemic?
As social distancing and working from home continue for the foreseeable future, face-to-face meetings with clients may not be possible for some time. Here are four ways that advisors can continue engaging with their clients in a meaningful way.
1. Find new ways to connect with clients
During this lockdown, virtual meetings and video calls have become a welcome connection with the world outside your front door. Even once restrictions are lifted, these technologies will be an important communication channel for virtual face-to-face engagement.
Clients and advisors alike are becoming much more comfortable with video. It’s not difficult to use, and is actually an excellent way to connect. (If you haven’t tried it, don’t be afraid. It’s so much better than a phone call.)
Post-pandemic, I expect that many clients will want to keep using virtual meetings as an alternative to booking extra time to travel to an in-person annual review meeting. Virtual meetings will also allow you to boost both your client engagement and your productivity.
The lockdown presents the need, as well as the opportunity, for you to consider ways to increase the use of easily available technologies in your practice. Depending on your firm’s policies, you may choose to keep using video calls for virtual client meetings, or explore other ways to leverage video to share topics of interest with your clients.
2. Employ time-saving alternatives for conducting transactions
The more you can enable your clients to handle financial matters and transactions by email or online, the better. Think about any experience you’ve had lately where e-signature wasn’t accepted and you had to figure out how your clients could print and sign back a physical form with a wet signature. Enough said.
Firms vary in the technology resources available for their advisors. If your firm offers tech-enabled tools to save time, I encourage you to use them. If you worry that your clients won’t want to, there’s no need. Clients of all ages have become very accustomed to digital tools in all other aspects of their lives.
Just a few weeks prior to the lockdown, some friends of mine sold their home. Other than the initial meeting with the real estate agent, the entire sales process, signing the offer and finalizing the deal were all handled virtually. It was so convenient, they can’t imagine ever wanting to revert back to the traditional method again. Our clients increasingly expect the same kind of convenience and ease from us.
3. Provide more frequent check-ins with clients
The most important thing you can do right now is reach out and connect with your clients much more frequently than in the past. They want to hear from you. They’re looking for reassurance and advice. They want to know that you care about them and that their financial well-being is in good hands.
Schedule phone calls, virtual meetings and webinars as ways to reassure clients that you’re there for them. If you can, use automated marketing services and leverage any content prepared by your firm to send out regular email updates.
4. Maintain the empathy
One of the most positive things to come out of this pandemic is all the human kindness and genuine concern people are showing for each other. It’s rare that a phone call or email doesn’t include some kind of message like “I hope you and your family are well.”
Video conferencing has also provided glimpses into people’s personal lives — their homes, children and pets. Rather than being an interruption, this is actually a wonderful opportunity that enables us to connect on a deeper level and be empathetic. Try not to lose sight of that empathy in future meetings and conversations with your clients as we move into the post-pandemic era.