Consumer experiences like shopping for groceries, mattresses and eyewear — traditionally accomplished in person — are shifting online.
A trip to the grocery store used to mean humming along to a Tracy Chapman or Counting Crows song while making an extra lap or two in search of wherever the store decided to hide lemon juice.
I used to enjoy shopping at the grocery store. I could usually listen to a good podcast while making my way through the list. Nowadays, my wife and I upload our shopping list to a subscription app and pick up our groceries in our car — much like we’d run through a fast-food drive-thru.
We bought our last mattress online, without testing it. We still visit our local optometrist for eye examinations, but we purchase glasses online. Our reasoning ranges from convenience to cutting costs and saving time (and sanity in trying to find the lemon juice).
Online is clearly becoming the preferred method of shopping.
We’re seeing this trend infiltrate the financial advisory business, too. According to a McKinsey report, 40 to 45% of affluent consumers ($100,000 to $1 million in assets) who changed their wealth management firm in the last two years chose a digitally led firm and worked with advisors via the phone.
A Virtual Trend
At first look, the shift toward digital advisors seems fleeting at best. Traditionally, the financial advice industry has relied on face-to-face meetings between client and advisor. Can any other method replicate the trust built from that?
It’s a trend that seems unlikely to translate. But a closer look will reveal the shift toward digital and the option for virtual is beneficial for both clients and advisors.
Virtual advisors don’t have to abide by the 8 to 5 workday. Technology (e.g., video conference calls, texting, etc.) allows for greater accessibility. Advisors can define their own workday and clients save time they would have spent traveling to and from their advisor’s office. Convenience is the name of the virtual advisor game.
How would it feel not to be limited to your office or glued to your conference room? Virtual meetings can be held nearly anywhere — your home, a hotel while you’re traveling, etc. Your life will open up as you schedule virtual meetings based upon your life — not the 9-to-5 time slot.
An offshoot benefit of going virtual is the ability for an advisor to grow their practice. Relying on in-person meetings geographically limits an advisor’s client home base. But if screen-to-screen replaces face-to-face, an advisors’ client pool knows no wall or state boundaries as long as they’re licensed to practice in those states.
How to Implement Virtual Tactics Today
Don’t misunderstand me: In-person meetings still hold a lot of weight, so I’m not saying you should cancel your lease on your office space and switch to running strictly virtual meetings. You can start to shift your practice, though, to offer virtual meetings to clients.
Think about the clients who would be most open to virtual meetings. They might be younger and more comfortable with straying from the format of traditional meetings — and more adept at technology. They might be busy because of work or family responsibilities. Your clients most inclined to virtual meetings might be just like you — passionate, but looking to get time back in their day and enjoy life more.
Test out virtual meetings with them. Zoom, GoToMeeting and join.me are three great options. Many software options like those three offer additional perks. (e.g., call recording so you don’t have to take notes; end-to-end encryption for secure meetings; integration with Gmail, Outlook, iCal and more to make scheduling simple).
Virtual meetings make a great addition to any client dashboard. For instance, the Carson Client Experience has baked-in video conferencing capabilities through Zoom, GoToMeeting and join.me so our partners can schedule a meeting with their clients on whatever platform works best for them.
You can also set up MyRepChat to text clients, opening up your accessibility even more — and it’s even compliance-approved. Advisors get reminded of important client dates like birthdays and anniversaries and can schedule meetings quickly.
Take small steps to test the waters of virtual advising — there’s no need to dive all in, yet. Meeting a client where they are — virtually — is easier for both parties. Offering the option for virtual meetings or adding other digital communications like texting makes you more accessible to clients and shows them you can align with their busy lifestyle.
Jud Mackrill is the chief marketing officer of Carson Group. He is passionate about building digital strategies and powerful tools to enhance the lives of advisors to effectively grow their firms.
Jud was introduced to financial services when he began working at Orion in 2004, where he served in a number of roles, including heading up technology implementation. In 2015, Jud co-founded Mineral Interactive with his wife, Kim. The Mineral team was honored to be named Winner, Best Advisor Innovation, Fuse 2017 and XYPN Fintech Champion 2018.