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How Advisors Are Finding Unexpected Upsides to Zoom Calls

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What You Need to Know

  • For years, remote technology had been there for the taking. COVID-19 simply pushed us to fully seize its potential.
  • One advisor has seen a surge of referrals stemming from his virtual events — even those that have nothing to do with finance.
  • Another advisor is “shocked by how much faster we’ve been able to form quick rapport and meaningful relationships despite never meeting in person.”

Since March 2020, COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. Despite its far-reaching impact, however, not all of its effects have been negative. In fact, most companies might agree that necessity became a powerful catalyst for our recent technological revolution. 

“We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an April 2020 earnings report.

Speaking with advisors and associates, I’ve seen firsthand how they have embraced digital offerings in ways they hadn’t before, committed to keeping connected with their businesses and clients in our newly remote world.

For years, remote technology had been ready for the taking. COVID-19 simply pushed us to fully seize its potential. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, advisor Scott Barkow in Coral Gables, Florida, has used Zoom for all client meetings — and uncovered the unexpected benefit of digitally building rapport with his next generation of clients.

This has been particularly valuable because, as a certified financial planner equipped to meet complex tax-planning needs, Scott’s target clients are pre-retirees. And it just so happens many of his clients’ children are in their 40s and 50s. 

Opportunities With Zoomfests

Scott found his Zoomfests often work best with no formal agenda, instead serving as a comfortable setting for clients to discuss everything from financial details to the legacies they hope to leave behind.

He also sets aside time to assist clients who are unfamiliar with Zoom, helping them with matters such as determining proper lighting and selecting customized backgrounds. 

On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Scott hosted events to connect with clients’ families and discuss their long-term investment plans — including the reasons behind those plans — with the next generation.

Also on the virtual itinerary were some unique client events, such as a painting class; a Manhattan class, for which clients were mailed cocktail kits with instructions for making the drink together over Zoom; a Galentine’s Day event; even a chocolate-making workshop.

Perhaps most impressive, as a unique benefit to clients, Scott held a Zoom call with clients and two Broadway performers featuring a half-hour performance and 10-minute Q&A session. 

Thus far, Scott has fully reaped the fruits of his labor. In addition to deepening relationships with his current clientele, connecting with the next generation of clients and expanding the scope of his financial guidance,

Scott has seen a surge of referrals stem from his virtual events — even those that had nothing to do with finance. It’s no surprise he’s keen on maintaining a virtual element to his business even after COVID-19 concerns lift, and plans to continue connecting with faraway clients through face-to-face virtual methods, rather than traditional phone calls.

Forming ‘Quick Rapport’

On the opposite coast in San Francisco, advisor Misty Farukh has unlocked other advantages of remote work. In fact, she recently onboarded prospects who reside in Washington and was  pleasantly surprised by the process, explaining that she and her team relied on Zoom, eSignature, and other mobile capabilities to streamline the transition.

“Our prospects were referrals, which adds a sense of familiarity because we have a common connection,” Misty told me. “But I’ve been shocked by how much faster we’ve been able to form quick rapport and meaningful relationships despite never meeting in person.

“Since our new clients are in the comfort of their own home, I truly believe they’ve let their guard down more than they would have in our office,” she explained.

Along with fostering familiarity from far away, video conferencing has helped Misty become acquainted with clients’ loved ones. “Their pets, kids and even grandkids have popped in on calls. We chatted with our client’s 13-year-old three times in our first month.

“Those interactions don’t usually happen until a year into a relationship with in-person meetings. Instead, we now get to see clients’ real lives instantly,” Misty explained.

Like other advisors, Misty also realized video conferencing saves time. For Misty, that means skipping the typical prep for in-office meetings. 

Despite her initial doubts on how prominent video conferencing would remain in her practice post COVID, Misty is now a self-proclaimed fan. “Efficient use of my time is key,” she said. “I am a convert.”

Looking ahead, I remain confident that increased mobility will allow us to finesse the financial services we provide clients and make it even easier to put people first. After all, the right technology isn’t about replacing in-person relationships. It’s about enhancing them. 


Salit Nagy-Todd is Senior Vice President Technology, Raymond James. (Raymond James is not affiliated with Zoom Video Communications Inc.)