Keeping your proposition relevant for today’s and tomorrow’s clients
The rise of Covid has forced IFAs away from face to face meetings, and towards phone calls and virtual video meetings. But what do advisers intend to do when the world opens up again?
According to Heather Hopkins, Managing Director at Next Wealth, the answer generally depends on how they have adapted to the two national lockdowns.
Hopkins’ keynote speech, Keeping your proposition relevant for today’s and tomorrow’s clients will feature at Intergen 2020, taking place in the week of 30 November. The large conference, an immersive online examination of wealth, tax and estate planning from every intergenerational angle, will offer a first look at some revealing research.
Speaking exclusively to IFA Magazine ahead of the event Hopkins gave a taster of some of the intriguing insights she will be covering, including analysis from a Next Wealth report for FundsNetwork, on the ways the advice sector is adapting to the coronavirus crisis.
The report finds that, unsurprisingly, prior to Covid, the vast majority of IFAs (86%) did their client goal setting meetings face to face. But, it is noteworthy that, when social distancing restrictions came into force earlier in 2020, one in ten stopped conducting these meetings altogether. So have they simply stopped taking on new business or reviewing clients goals?
Meanwhile, 46% have been conducting these meetings over the phone, 31% have used a web tool like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, with a further 5% going online with a web form.
Looking at what these advisers expect to happen after Covid, almost half (49%) expect to return to face to face meetings.
However, Hopkins noted there is a significant divergence between those who are using phones currently and those using online meeting tools in this regard.
For those advisers who have been conducting phone meetings during the crisis, the majority expect to go back to face to face. In contrast, the majority of those who used online tools plan to continue to use these tools even after Covid.
The zoom boom
The obvious takeaway is that phone calls have proven a less effective replacement (and not just in goal setting meetings) for face-to face meetings compared to the likes of Zoom and other web meeting software.
And there are some good reasons for that:
“You can meet with more family members – you can get the whole family around the screen, where it is very hard to get them all in the office. You can see the home renovation that you’ve helped your client to finance. Advisers have told me about the fantastic difference it has made to them to be able to be in the client’s home.”
It’s hard to overestimate how hard it can be to get all the relevant personalities available for one meeting at the same time, (for example all the main beneficiaries of a will, or all the family members involved in a planning discussion), so any digital tool that can facilitate making that easier has real value.
With many clients now having experienced the ease of online communications, it’s also worth considering what adviser clients will now expect from advisers in terms of convenient and easy face to face engagement – and how technology might satisfy these demands. And that might not just apply to younger generations.
The effective use of virtual video meetings is just one topic Hopkins will cover at Intergen 2020. Looking elsewhere, she will discuss the pros and cons of the various back office system providers, how much IFAs should be spending on tech, what the next generation of planners looks like, and will also reveal another tech tool IFAs are increasingly relying on, which has seen explosive growth over lockdown.