Written by Nick Bird, Business Development Manager.
With the coronavirus, our work and social lives have changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined only a short time ago.
As someone whose job is out on the road, meeting advisers up and down the country, I am still getting used to conversations only taking place in front of a screen or over the phone.
I know this has been a challenging transition for many of the advisers I work with too. That’s not to say that life isn’t carrying on, though. Or that work isn’t as busy as ever.
So how are advisers adapting to these challenging circumstances?
Here’s my take on some of the common hurdles advisers are facing at the moment, and how lots of them are meeting these head-on to keep business running as usual.
Getting to grips with technology
Unsurprisingly, this has been a big one.
As an industry that thrives on building close relationships, some advisers have found themselves out of their comfort zone. They’re having to provide face-to-face advice where face-to-face meetings are no longer an option.
The market is flooded with tech solutions that, of course, will make life easier. But if you’re not a dab hand with technology, which I’m sure a lot of us aren’t, it can be overwhelming just knowing where to start and what tools you need for the job.
The good news is that there are resources out there to help you, and your clients, get up to speed with these communication tools.
I noticed advisers with older clients are finding it difficult to get them on board with these new solutions, too. Having access and understanding of tools like Zoom is probably a rarity among the older clients you work with.
Octopus has recognised this is a significant hurdle and is offering our own IT experts to help. Using the new Callback feature on our website, advisers can speak to one of the team to get advice about running their business online, how to use popular software and where to find useful resources on our website.
If you’d like to give this a try, follow this link to arrange a callback at a time that suits.
Making digital meetings work
Video conferencing isn’t just for clients. Some advisers have found it challenging to keep open lines of communication with their wider team and paraplanners given the circumstances. Daily catch-ups can really help. Miscommunication and no communication is all too easy when working remotely.
I’ve found virtual meetings can be a tricky beast though something worth paying extra attention to is presentation style and environment. (I’ve seen lots of silhouettes and distracting backgrounds recently.)
Sally Boyle, an Area Sales Director at Octopus, wrote a great article on this last week. She runs a field-based team and knows how to present virtual meetings successfully. It’s definitely worth a read, even for seasoned presenters.
Acquiring new clients
Maintaining close relationships with existing clients has been relatively straightforward for the majority of those I’ve spoken to. And they’re continuing to write business.
But acquiring new contacts in the current climate is proving harder. That’s understandable. Advisers are naturally most comfortable and effective when they’re face to face with a prospective client. Establishing empathy is a little trickier from behind a screen with dodgy wifi. Added to the fact that we’re all stuck inside, it doesn’t make for a great time to build up your client bank.
This isn’t an immediate concern. It’s worth remembering that financial planning may not be a top priority for many right now but could be soon. Many people will be making financial choices in the coming months and will need advice. Coronavirus might well be the catalyst for some to finally get round to sorting out their affairs. We’ve certainly seen in the news, an unprecedented demand for will writing, as people feel an urgency to get the house in order.
No one really knows how this is going to play out, or what effect it’s going to have in the long run. But what advisers can control right now is maintaining and strengthening the relationships they do have.
Keeping a work life balance
If you’re like me and don’t have your own office, working from the kitchen with kids running in and out isn’t ideal.
I think most of us are struggling with this one a little. We’ve probably never had our work and family lives so intertwined before, so finding a balance is hard.
I’ve found creating clear boundaries for how I spend my time really helpful. Some advisers have iterated a similar tale. Setting defined work and family time allows you to keep a degree of normality by having something closer to a usual routine.
Advice firms will emerge stronger
Despite these unusual and difficult times, the advisers I work with have adapted incredibly well to the changes. Many have even reported greater efficiencies that they are likely to extend into their business when we all return to our offices.
What I’ve noticed across the board though is a willingness to go above and beyond for clients. Whether it’s making them at ease with new ways of communicating, looking closely at how their investments are performing, or even just calling to have a chat, reassurance goes a long way in times like these.