At this point, it’s fair to say that the pandemic has changed the way we live. We celebrated holidays over Zoom, wore masks to the grocery store, and opted for takeout or home cooked meals instead of eating at restaurants.
We’ll likely phase out some of these approaches over time, but some changes may become more permanent, like how we speak with our financial advisors.
When the pandemic hit, financial advisors, like many people, used technology to move their businesses online. It gave them opportunities to experiment with new ways to reach and communicate with clients and even make career changes, like starting their own firm. These adjustments may have long-lasting effects on the way we interact with our financial advisors — and that could be a bonus.
COVID-19 and Technology Changed Our Communication With Financial Advisors
How did you meet your financial advisor in the first place? For many people, it was at a Parent-Teacher Association meeting or through a club, such as a church group. Financial advisors are members of your community. Their firms may have sponsored your grandkids’ Little League teams, or they may have had a table set up at a local fair. We knew them from somewhere else and trusted them.
The pandemic forced youth sports leagues to cancel seasons, and PTA and club meetings went virtual. Though Zoom helped us stay connected, it took away the opportunity to mix and mingle while watching little Johnny throw balls and strikes. Financial advisors needed to pivot and find a way to continue to attract clients. They used social media, like LinkedIn, to craft content like blogs and infographics that positioned them as valuable experts in their field. Other people shared and saw the posts and reached out for help.
Using technology to provide helpful advice isn’t just a way to market to potential clients. It’s also a way to help current ones. You may have received more newsletters or noticed your financial advisor was more active on social media. Perhaps some of that advice helped you think about your goals and approaches to financial management.
Though Zoom hurt a financial advisor’s ability to network, virtual meetings and technology gave clients a new way to meet with the person helping to manage their money. Instead of driving to a financial advisor’s office, we could simply log onto our computers or phones and get the information we needed.
The conversations may have also felt more personal. In the past, you may have made some small talk about the beginning of a meeting with your financial advisor. They may have asked about your family and how you were doing. However, during a year of isolation, these moments may have felt like a genuine lifeline. Your advisor may have helped ease your fears or anxiety about money, particularly as the markets frequently fluctuated.
Banks have been offering paperless communication for years. During the pandemic, financial advisors had less access to printers and fax machines. Apps, services like DocuSign, portals and email communication became even more important to clients who wanted updates, needed to make a change in their contributions to a retirement account or sign documents.
The Future of Interaction With Your Financial Advisor
Hopefully, we’ll be able to meet with our financial advisors in person in the coming months. But virtual interactions may be here to stay. Though some people are itching to get back to their offices or meet face-to-face, the pandemic proved that many individuals could be just as if not more productive from home. Your financial advisor may continue to allow you to book meetings using technology like Zoom to go over your assets and goals. This option may be particularly helpful if you don’t like to drive or live in an area that doesn’t have a financial advisor on every street corner and have to commute long-distance to meet with yours.
Your inbox and social feeds may also continue to be full of useful tips from your financial advisor, even in a post-pandemic world. Some financial advisors found the soft-sell approach to finding new clients and engaging with existing ones worthwhile. Experts say some pros plan to keep at it.
You may even start to see more of it. Diamond pointed out that some financial advisors evaluated their work-life and decided to leave their firms and strike out on their own during the pandemic. One of the perks? They have more freedom and don’t have to cut through a bunch of red tape, such as running a newsletter up the ladder to several superiors followed by the legal department to send out content. They can also get creative and experiment with podcasts and webinars.
The hope is that these interactions provide more value to clients like you. The last year has been challenging, and there are still several aspects of financial management you and your family may need to navigate as we — hopefully — emerge from the worst of the pandemic. You may have questions about the stimulus program or anxiety about what’s left in your retirement fund. Your financial advisor will now be able to help you through that in a variety of new ways.
Finally, expect conversations to continue to feel genuine, authentic and more personable than in the past. Though we stayed far apart, many of us became more connected through our shared experiences in a pandemic. Perhaps your financial advisor feels more like a trusted friend than ever. Consider it a silver lining.