MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS FROM A DISTANCE
HOW TO USE THE VIDEO SKILLS YOU ACQUIRED DURING THE PANDEMIC TO IMPROVE CLIENT SERVICE IN THE FUTURE
FOR FINANCIAL professionals , COVID-19 drove a rapid and sometimes uncomfortable shift from in-person meetings to video calls using Zoom , Teams , WebEx , and other similar platforms . But today , agents are looking toward a return to normal , a time when they can once again look clients in the eye and shake their hands .
For many financial professionals , “ normal ” is likely to include a substantial number of virtual interactions . The pandemic showed that the use of remote meetings can hold significant benefits for producers and their clients , and many now see remote meetings as an important part of their tool kit . According to a survey from the SmartAsset financial information site , only 2 % of agents preferred video calls prior to the pandemic — but today , 33 % expect to prefer them going forward .
For many agents , then , remote meetings are here to stay . With that in mind , there are several steps you can take to use these virtual tools more effectively — and to continue to provide a hightouch experience even while working remotely with clients . THE VALUE OF VIRTUAL
Video calls are appealing for several reasons . They are convenient and can be held more easily at odd , nonbusiness hours . They don ’ t require travel for either the client or the financial professional . And for a significant segment of clients , they have become a favored form of contact .
Moving ahead , video will be especially important in reaching younger clients for whom virtual interactions are second nature — clients who will be the recipients of a $ 30 trillion generational transfer of wealth from their baby boomer parents .
But don ’ t count seniors out , says Patricia Hausherr , vice president of Global Atlantic Consulting . “ Many of us have these preconceived ideas that older clients are not going to be able to handle the technology ,” she says , “ but we ’ re finding out that ’ s not necessarily the case . We are hearing about elderly clients who have found it to be a more effective and efficient way to work with their financial advisor .”
Remote contact also makes it easier to stay in touch as people move around — including those older clients who are heading into that critical preretirement period . “ We know that most investors will have three to five financial professionals as they head into retirement , and then they typically consolidate to one ,” says Hausherr . As those retiring clients move to better climates or closer to children , video calls can help maintain connections . “ Agents who have remained highly visible online during COVID say that they are winning those relationships , and the consolidation is coming to them ,” she says . IMPROVING YOUR GAME
Like any tool , virtual interactions are more effective when used correctly . Toward that end , financial professionals can consider several key practices :
Get the basics right . Good lighting , the right camera angles , and nondistracting backgrounds are still important . You may also want to look at your security practices and make sure you and your clients are maintaining privacy — which can mean ensuring that family members , friends , or even Alexa or Google Assistant are not listening in . With all that in mind , some firms have designated individuals to oversee their virtual platforms , run meetings , and offer assistance . Clients may need help as well . “ Financial planners are likely to be well versed at this point , given that they have five or more virtual meetings a day . But clients might not be , and so just having some general knowledge of troubleshooting is good ,” says Meghaan R . Lurtz , PhD , senior research associate at Kitces . com , which provides advisors with consulting and education .
Adjust communication patterns . Instead of quarterly inperson meetings , some producers have found it useful to use video calls to make shorter but more frequent contacts . In addition , producers can use multichannel communications —