Path to Remote Engagement: Could this be the time for pulling out of the holding pattern?

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  • Author : Novia Financial
  • Date : 5 Nov 2020

COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down, changing everything from the way we socialise and work through to how we shop, with a common thread being the increased use of technology. The fear here is that communicating without seeing people in person creates a distance that stops us from properly ‘connecting’.

In reality, however, there are many ways in which – as well as taking on a lot of the heavy lifting at work – technology has actually brought people together, creating new ways to interact and showing us another side to our work colleagues. Think of those times when pets and children have had surprise cameo appearances in conference calls, and the glimpses we’ve had into our colleagues’ choice of wall art; think of how the question ‘how are you?’ at the start of a meeting has now become a genuine one rather than just a traditional greeting and how the small talk at the start of meetings has taken on a new importance.

In times of stress or change, having a real connection with the people you do business with – both clients and colleagues – is more important than ever. Indeed, for those continuing to minimise their physical interaction with the outside world due to health concerns, remote contact is invaluable for their mental as well as physical health and – more specifically to our industry – for making sure they don’t miss out on essential advice and information they need.

Developing Technologies

The providers of technologies such as Teams and Zoom have fast tracked their developments and made their offerings more flexible and easier to use and the current situation has also accelerated the learning curve for many clients who might traditionally have been resistant to engaging online. The number of grandparents whose interaction with grandchildren is now primarily online using Facetime, Teams, Whatsapp etc. shows that even those who were completely unfamiliar with technology for social interaction just a few months ago are now becoming dab hands at it.

With that in mind, now is very likely the time for Advisers to have better luck engaging with those new clients who may have traditionally baulked at the concept of receiving advice any way but in person.  With many more potential clients now used to interacting virtually and websites such as Unbiased providing reassurance that remote advice is ok, hopefully firms that have been stuck in a holding pattern can now start to pull out of it and ready themselves to land in a New Normal where it’s easy to reach out to more new clients.

A recent article from unbiased.co.uk highlighted that:

Even in a pandemic, you can’t just put your life on hold. People aged 70 and over have been advised to limit contact with others as much as possible, as a precaution against catching the potentially fatal COVID-19 disease. But if you’re in or near this age range, you will have another big concern on your mind: your retirement income. There is, ironically, a big overlap between those who are most at risk from coronavirus, and those most in need of receiving one-to-one financial advice. 

Doing Our Part

For our part, we’re working to make it is as easy as possible for you to implement the remote advice you’ve given, removing the need for wet signatures for most process so that face to face meetings aren’t required.

We’ve always delivered the vast majority of services online, but we’ve fast tracked our ongoing development programme to move the remaining servicing functions onto Adviser Zone. Whilst this work continues, we’ve moved the most frequently used processes to signatureless forms wherever third-party processes have allowed it. We aim to streamline processes for both you and your clients, but we will never compromise on the security of your clients’ money, which is why we made the decision to introduce biometric verification to our processes. Again, technology is stepping in to ease the process. Even the most tech-savvy of today’s silver surfers probably never imagined that taking a selfie and filling in a few lines of data would replace old school identity verification processes in their lifetimes.

Could this be a good time to revisit those potential clients who, in the early days of lockdown, lacked the confidence to engage in remote advice and get them to pull out of their holding pattern?

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