“Zoom fatigue is real,” Commonwealth Financial Network’s Maria Considine King says.
After Commonwealth’s second annual Summit for Women Advisors — held online this year on June 23 and 24 — King, the firm’s senior vice president of practice management, has some advice to share on beating the mental and emotional fatigue brought on by constant virtual meetings and the other realities of serving clients from home during the pandemic.
With the women’s event wrapped up, King took the time to highlight how Commonwealth is encouraging its advisors to improve their remote-working lives and what it learned by hosting a virtual event. She also discussed what women need to thrive in the advisory industry.
“We think it’s important for our field force to reflect the communities they serve, so increasing our proportion of women advisors — as well as the numbers of other underrepresented groups — is critical to our ability to effectively serve end clients for years to come,” she told ThinkAdvisor.
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Commonwealth has more than 460 female advisors, who represent about 19% of its total number of affiliated independent advisors. Its home-office staff is 40% female and includes more than 360 women. The firm is in the process of recruiting a chief diversity and inclusion officer.
Here are some key takeaways from our interview.
THINKADVISOR: What top advice do you have about working remotely?
Maria Considine King: As for what is working with work from home, we are pleased with how smoothly it has been adopted, both in the field and at the home office. What works? A lot!
Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings have been critical to maintaining connections and keeping business flowing. We have learned a few tips:
First, give folks permission to not be on video for every single call. We’ve all read that Zoom fatigue is real, so give folks (yourself included) the latitude to turn off the camera every now and then and reduce the strain of being “on” all day.
Second, encourage folks to limit meetings, so they are not in meetings all day and can end their day on time. Some of our departments have introduced loose guidelines to not have meetings before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
It’s not always possible, but if a meeting can be moved to another time so that there is a buffer at the beginning and end of each day, that is preferred.
Third, encourage folks to get up and walk around. It’s very easy to sit for the entire day when you’re at home. There are no meeting rooms to go to, no colleague’s office to drop in on.
That Zoom meeting you don’t need to be on video for? Participate by phone and take a walk while you’re on it.
How is Commonwealth supporting advisors today, as they care for clients?
Even before the pandemic was fully underway, we were concerned about compassion fatigue setting in for advisors should the coronavirus take over as it has or the markets fall.
Advisors are very much in the caregiving profession, shouldering the worries and trials of clients as well as family and friends. While not specific to female advisors, we began hosting — and will continue to host — Caring Conversations with advisors in COVID-19 hot spots.
These are moderated calls that allow advisors to step out of their caregiving role for a brief period and share their experiences and receive support, compassion and understanding from their peers.
In addition, we hold weekly all-Commonwealth calls on Wednesday afternoons to give an update on the coronavirus, the markets and the home office, as well as invite outside speakers to give their perspectives.
Recently, [financial advice author] Nick Murray and [wealth psychology consultant] Kathleen Burns Kingsbury have joined these calls, and we look forward to more great guest speakers in the coming weeks and months.
Finally, we are beginning a series called Commonwealth’s Summer of Wellness, which is a holistic exploration of physical and mental wellness that will feature live webinars with inspiring speakers, enthusiastic fitness professionals and an integrative medicine physician, all helping members of the Commonwealth community feel their very best.
What are your three takeaways (from the recent event) on how to help female advisors excel?
First, women in this business are eager to share what they have learned and what works and what hasn’t, so that women coming up in the industry can have an easier time of it.