As our businesses and work environments changed overnight due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so did the value of a financial plan, the role of the advisor, and the utilization of technology to meet the demands of the current market.
It’s no surprise this year’s market volatility has resulted in an increased interest in financial planning. Investors are seeing the value of a plan built for the long term.
Bearing this out, in early May we conducted a survey of 227 advisor clients to see how COVID-19 has affected advisor use, need and perception of financial planning software. We discovered that 37% of respondents have received inquiries from new clients about creating a financial plan.
This creates an opportunity for advisors to refocus business models and expand revenue opportunities with a ready-to-buy audience.
While there is great growth potential through these new relationships, you also have a captive audience of current clients, which makes this a critical time to deepen those relationships. Clients who underestimated the value of planning in the past are now looking at things differently.
If you have clients who have been reluctant to put a comprehensive plan in place, this is a chance to educate them on the importance of having one, and to remind them of the confidence that comes with viewing market returns through the lens of a financial plan and not through turbulent daily updates.
Embracing Change by Making Some Changes
The thrill of new business can be diminished by the thought of the accompanying workload. But now is the time to dive into all the technology you’ve been hesitant to embrace. Most likely you already have tools that you’re under-utilizing. Take time to learn how to leverage the solutions available to you, whether it’s for obtaining digital signatures, conducting virtual meetings or even building financial plans.
Next, consider how your work environment, client communications strategy and tech stack can be optimized to help you perform as efficiently and effectively as possible.
You’re used to being in an office environment with more resources than your home office has, and you’re used to meeting with your clients face to face. Options are different now, but that doesn’t mean they are worse.
Conducting meetings virtually actually can create a more relaxed atmosphere, and sharing documents and plans on screen encourages a more collaborative meeting.
There is likely a tech solution available for any process you are trying to streamline. Evaluate what you have and need. Then look for the platforms or tools that will help you achieve those goals so that you don’t overbuy and over complicate your life and your business.
Clients probably are in touch more. They may have more questions or need a little reassurance about what they saw on last night’s news. With a communication plan in place, you can proactively reach out to all or segments of your clients on a scheduled basis. Even if it’s a non-personalized newsletter or a quick commentary, hearing from you lets them know you’re thinking of them, which makes them feel more confident in their relationship with you.
This pandemic has brought about unprecedented conditions in the financial marketplace. If the past tells us anything, these conditions are temporary, but your clients’ expectations are not. Your decisions and actions made with the benefit of your clients in mind will help strengthen their trust and confidence in you, ensuring long and prosperous relationships.
Matt Schulte, CFP, is head of financial planning for eMoney Advisor.