Wealth management firms are no longer looking at virtual advising as an alternative business model. The dynamics of client engagement have changed in 2020. Financial advisors who are not able to prospect and meet clients online will have difficulty competing in this new environment.
Welcome to the new normal. COVID-19 lingers on and folks simply don’t want to come out of their homes unless its absolutely necessary. If your firm doesn’t offer a virtual option, prospects and clients will go elsewhere. In this article, we’ll talk about how you can avoid that. Here’s how to become a virtual financial advisor.
What’s next for your practice? Consider working with an experienced financial advisor coach from Northstar Leadership Solutions. Request a free consultation.
Preparing Your Firm for Virtual Client Engagement
Becoming a virtual financial advisor involves more than just signing up for Zoom and doing video meetings with clients. Sure, that’s a big part of your daily routine, but there needs to be an infrastructure in place to handle back office tasks and client service as well.
Prior to launching virtual services, make sure that other members of your team are onboard and understand their respective responsibilities. Review the prospect journey from first contact to close, assign phone and email responsibilities, and make sure your processes are in place.
Review Your Website
Even if you were not to go completely virtual, an engaging website is essential in this day and age. Now is simply a great time to reevaluate your website. Unfortunately, this an area that many advisors pay little attention to. In a virtual world, your website is the online face of your business. Make sure it communicates your value proposition properly and that your call to action (CTA) functions are clear and properly placed.
Converting Existing Clients to Virtual Communication
One of the biggest mistakes we see advisors make with clients is assuming they won’t embrace technology. The most common objection is, “My client base is older. They don’t use computers.” Meanwhile, Grandma is Facebooking with her grandkids every day.
The fastest growing audience on social media is the over-65 demographic. COVID-19 has left seniors more isolated than ever. They’ll thank you for the opportunity to do business online. As for the younger folks, they expect virtual client service.
Start your move to the virtual world by contacting all of your existing clients to let them know what you’re planning. Frame it as an upgrade, because it is. And finally, be sure to provide clear instructions for accessing information, letting clients know that they can always schedule personal time with you to review the steps.
Technology is Key to Scaling a Virtual Advisory Firm
In our world, we generally think of technology in terms of software and computer hardware. There’s more to it than that. Working as a virtual financial advisor requires an investment in a variety of different technologies to facilitate productivity and communication.
- Home Office Furniture. If you’ll be working from home, start with your home office furniture. Ergonomic chairs and stand-up/treadmill desks can save you from serious neck and back problems later in life. Virtual advisors can be more productive because they don’t have to travel—but the sedentary nature of the job can cause health issues.
- Communication Needs. Your communication technology will need to be upgraded as well. Zoom’s great, but what are clients seeing behind you on the video? Virtual back drops or even a removable screen can make a big difference in terms of professionalism. Sound quality should also be addressed, so be sure to invest in a good mic or headset. (Check out this 3-minute video: “3 Essentials to Great Video Conferencing”)
- Reporting & CRM Software. Work from the inside out. Once you address your virtual office environment, evaluate client reporting, CRM, and communication software. These should all integrate together seamlessly and offer the client a pleasant and informative user experience no matter where they are.
Differentiation in an Online Environment
Think of virtual advisory services as a growth engine. When done properly, it can help a firm scale at a pace that’s not possible in a more traditional setting. Doing business online eliminates geographical boundaries and opens up larger prospect markets.
Differentiation in this environment is accomplished by fine-tuning the online experience. Having an engaging and attractive website is a good start. Be sure to follow up with your base by providing regular content, like a blog, social media posts, or an email newsletter.
We’ve already spoken on the video experience and the importance of backdrops. That’s part of what will make you unique. Other distinguishing variables are follow-up communications and client service. Both need to be timely and part of an overall branded outreach strategy.
Employing Automation as Your Extra Set of Hands
The most successful virtual wealth management firms rely heavily on automation. Emails from marketing programs can be triggered by events and inquiries. Reporting can be done with online client portals. Account data can be aggregated automatically. Look for technology applications and platforms that employ automation and integrate via API with your other systems.
Work with a Financial Advisor Coach
If you’re unsure where to go from here, our team here at Northstar Leadership Solutions can help. Bill Edmonds can coach you on how to set achievable goals, facilitate growth and improve client retention with a virtual financial advisor practice. Contact us today to request a free consultation.