From the May 2015 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

How Well Does Your Firm Virtually Serve Your Clients?

Advisors need to make sure their technology offerings are in line with their clients’ expectations

Your clients are probably using multiple devices to interact with you. Make sure you meet their expectations. Your clients are probably using multiple devices to interact with you. Make sure you meet their expectations.

Take a moment and think about how many different ways you access information in the virtual world. My list includes my iPhone, iPad, office PC, personal Mac, Apple TV and maybe soon an iWatch. Sometimes I’m using multiple devices at the same time.

Are your clients and prospects that much different? I don't think so, and it leads to a question about how well you serve them virtually. Are you making the best use of the ways technology can give your clients what they want from you?

When you send information to your clients electronically, chances are good that they have immediate access to it. Given this state of things, how easy is it for your clients to contact you? Do you truly know the results of your communication methods? There is no reason for your firm to not have a good idea of what is working and not working.

Need a place to start? Consider working with a marketing and communication company like Vestorly that can leverage your communication efforts. (Disclosure: My company recently signed a deal with Vestorly to provide services to RIAs who custody with SSG.) At a high level, Vestorly offers your firm the ability to build a virtual database of articles authored by your firm, as well as other content providers (CNBC, New York Times, etc.), with your branding. Then you can track the articles that are read by prospects and clients. Ultimately, this technology helps your firm stay “visible” in the virtual world.

Suppose it is time for your next client meeting. Are you confined to your office, your client's home or maybe Starbucks? How proficient are you in facilitating this meeting virtually with your client? Many of us are very comfortable using FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts and other communication services in our personal lives, but we may not have leveraged this technology for our businesses.

Furthermore, you might prefer to meet with your clients in person, but is that their preference? Regular in-person meetings for many advisors are not as frequent as they used to be, which increases the importance of at least meeting virtually. Once you get your clients used to meeting with you virtually, think about the benefits it offers you and your clients. Now you can work anywhere and still “see” your clients when you are not in the office or even in town.

Another way advisors can improve their virtual presence is by using video. More advisors today have a video on their website that describes their firm and the services that they offer. This is a great medium that allows a prospect to quickly learn about your firm without having to click through multiple Web pages. If you are speaking at a conference, study group or other event, consider having a colleague or friend shoot a brief video of your presentation. All it takes is a few seconds of content using an iPhone, Android or other device.

Client events are another great opportunity to capture video footage. This extra content can be incorporated into other videos that drive home the message of what your firm is all about. The videos do not need to be very long; a lot can be shared in one to three minutes. If you need help building your videos, you can consider working with Building Trust Online, Inc., which was co-founded by Bill Winterberg of FPPad.com.

For some advisors, serving clients virtually may be daunting or not a high priority. However, it shouldn't strain your resources with the choices available today. With the focus on serving the next generation of wealth, we are learning that the virtual world is part of how these clients like to conduct their financial affairs. Is your firm ready?

Let Your Audience (Clients) Help You Decide Where to Start

You probably already know the clients who are most active in the virtual world. You likely see it in their behavior and the personal technology tools that they already own. You can use this information to help your firm. For example, who are the clients that prefer to communicate using virtual tools (email, text messages, social media, etc.) versus picking up the phone? Use this list of clients as your first target group for conducting a virtual meeting. You will learn very quickly what works and what doesn't. Sometimes, the hardest part is simply becoming comfortable with the situation and smoothly leading the meeting just as if the client is sitting across the table.

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