Prior to 2020, most financial professionals interacted with their clients primarily in person. However, this soon changed. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we saw a significant increase in people working virtually. Organizations and individuals learned how to quickly pivot and turn a unique and challenging situation into an opportunity. Change happened in a big way in 2020 and it taught us how to adapt, be flexible, and resilient.
In a June 2020 survey of Chief Financial Officers working in the financial services industry, 61% said they plan to make remote work permanent for roles that support it.1 Just as remote work will remain a permanent fixture with organizations; it will likely see an increase with financial professionals too.
Thanks to advances in technology, especially within the past year, working remotely or virtually is now a much more viable option rather than something that used to be a nice to do. And for financial professionals, working virtually can be both practical and beneficial for one’s practice.
Becoming a virtual financial professional requires a different mindset and a unique set of skills. Those who are interested in providing online financial advice will focus on taking the necessary actions to ensure a successful practice. Here are some tips to thrive as a financial professional in a virtual world.
1. Prepare for working remotely
Alexander Graham Bell said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
Prepare for working virtually. What does preparation look like? It is investing in training and education.
Earlier this year, I participated in a Stacey Hanke virtual workshop that focused on communicating with influence. Stacey Hanke offers workshops customized to fit a variety of needs and this particular one included training specific to virtual communication. The virtual world requires a different approach to communication than face-to-face. For financial professionals, building and maintaining client relationships in person can be a daunting task, and in the virtual world, it can be even more challenging. You are setting yourself up for success when you invest in training that specifically addresses the unique demands for working with clients virtually.
What other skills do you need to focus on to be more competent in the digital world?
2. Invest in technology
In addition to preparation, invest in technology and tools. A recent CNBC article reported that due to the pandemic, financial advisory firms have had to adapt using virtual technologies to keep their meetings going with clients, and their newfound comfort with technology will probably change advisory practices well into the future.2
What resources do you already have? Which tech tools might you need for video conferencing? How would you rate your technology skills, and what do you need to do to get better? These are just a few questions you should ask yourself.
Advances in technology have made it easier to connect with people anytime and anywhere. It also allows for greater exposure to new markets and clients.
3. Create informed content to share with clients
In a virtual world, it is also important to have digital materials to share with clients. Helpful infographics, videos, and blog posts can be valuable resources in solidifying your client relationships. With clients increasingly looking for online financial planning advice, it is crucial to make sure you are well prepared.
There are technology and tools that were designed to help people thrive in a virtual world. Investing in technology doesn’t necessarily mean monetarily, it can also mean investing time into understanding technology as well.
4. Don’t neglect your interpersonal skills
Maintaining client relationships through the pandemic is no small task. Creating good habits for building rapport, listening, asking questions, and other interpersonal skills will go a long way to build and sustain relationships virtually. One rule of thumb is to be aware of your own and your client’s body language, posture, eye contact, and facial expressions because they all can convey confidence.
Benefits of becoming a virtual financial professional
Brian Thorp, CEO, and founder of Wealthtender addresses three key benefits of becoming a virtual financial professional3
- Convenience. The financial professional can give clients back time in their day because the client no longer has to deal with traffic to meet with them, making this a benefit for both the client and financial professional.
- Real-time communication. There is no disruption to the financial professional/client relationship. This is especially beneficial for people who travel frequently or anticipate moving to another part of the country or overseas. You are always just a zoom call away.
- Specialization. Financial professionals can specialize in serving a niche market that wouldn’t be possible if limited to working with clients in their hometown.
Financial professionals who want to expand their practice virtually will take time to prepare, invest in technology, and focus on their interpersonal skills. With the need for financial advice increasing, now may be the ideal time to rethink becoming a remote financial professional.