The Covid-19 pandemic has created a tough environment for financial advisers. A recent publication by discretionary fund manager PortfolioMetrix suggests that as few as 10% of advisers in the UK have added “new business of any significance” during this period.
Largely this is because advisers have been unable to meet prospective clients in person. For an industry where personal connections are critical, this has had a big impact.
However, as PortfolioMetrix suggests, the ways in which the world has been forced to adapt to lockdowns and working from home, has also changed people’s expectations.
At the start of 2020, the use of online video meeting tools was not widespread. Today, however, there will be few people in the UK who haven’t used Zoom or something similar to stay in touch with family and friends. It has become an acceptable way to interact on many levels.
It is therefore important not to assume that clients won’t want a virtual service. On the contrary, many may feel safer not having to run the health risks that a person meeting could involve.
“During the national lockdown, clients who previously weren’t tech savvy quickly learned how to use video software,” notes Mark Finster of Helm Godfrey. “They had to if they wanted to continue to see their families. Initially, they were wary of using this for business but most soon adapted to meeting virtually. So much-so that a recent client survey by Helm Godfrey shows that meeting via video software is now the preference for three out of five clients.”
Making the most of video
Using online video to reach new and existing clients also has a number of advantages.
For a start, it is more environmentally friendly. In a world where consumers are increasingly aware of how seriously businesses are taking the climate crisis, reducing your carbon footprint won’t go unnoticed.
Secondly, it is highly efficient. There is no need to travel anywhere for a virtual meeting. Both the adviser and the client can join an online video chat from anywhere.
Video is also highly flexible. To get an external expert onto a webinar does not require you to arrange and pay for their transport and, possible, accommodation. They can speak to your clients from wherever they are.
As a marketing tool, it is also possible to reach far more people online. The number of clients or prospects you could host for an in-person briefing or seminar is limited by both the size of the venue and your catering budget. Online meetings have neither of those restrictions.
All of these factors contribute to making the use of online video and meeting tools a potentially powerful element of a firm’s marketing strategy. And even as vaccines are rolled out and economies open up again, those advantages won’t go away.
Even though in-person meetings will become important again, if people have grown used to interacting online, it is likely that they will be comfortable to carry on doing so. Advisers who have built successful strategies in this area will therefore continue to have an edge.
Consider, for example, the potential of hosting joint webinars with other businesses that share your client base. This includes accountants, solicitors or mortgage advisers.
Having relationships with these businesses will always create the potential for third-party referrals, but running joint online events with them takes this a step further. It allows you to expand your audience and display your expertise in an interactive way.
As Tom Senogles of Efficient Portfolio notes, there are also opportunities to create more community engagement through online video:
“Previously we ran a monthly podcast, but during the pandemic we have shifted this to a weekly video format alongside our usual audio channels,” he says. “We have also added more in-depth interviews with successful business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals in other fields to offer more variety to our existing content.”
Perhaps the most powerful thing about video, however, is that it allows advisers to show their personalities in a way that just using text does not. And, ultimately, potential clients will always want to know who they are dealing with.
“Building a successful business under challenging conditions is less about what you do and more about who you are,” says Kate Gannon of Themis Wealth Management. “If your business is empathetic to what people need and you align your values to those of the clients you want to attract, helped by the right sort of marketing, new prospects will come knocking on your door.”
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