Expert: Vincent Tiseo, MD, Business Strategy, Strategic Advisory Solutions, GSAM and Facilitator: John Chapman, Orion Consultancy
- The pandemic has accelerated digital integration in the advice process
- Returning to an office-based environment will be a challenge and we have to develop a hybrid working model that considers culture, inclusion and wellness.
- Roles have to be considered on their merit as to whether they can operate full time on a remote basis.
- Clients have developed new methodologies and we will have to develop models that embrace a number of routes to servicing a client.
The world has been turned on its head in the last 16 months and the financial advice industry is no exception. Although the vast majority of financial planning businesses fared well in the pandemic due to the resilience of their recurring revenue model, client communication and service together with staff being forced to work remotely has created an ongoing challenge/opportunity.
At the start of the pandemic and nationwide lockdown, it was clear that financial planking firms had two main tasks:
- To enable staff go work remotely
- To ensure there was continuation of service provision to clients
Enabling staff to work remotely probably involved some capital expenditure in provision of IT kit and a degree of “Novelty factor” helped this task become a successful operation. There are obvious wellbeing issues with staff working remotely for long periods of time and maintain the business culture and a feeling of “Belonging” added to the difficulties of working remotely.
The challenge now is to get staff back into the workplace, if that is the agreed strategy. If not, how do you maintain culture, inclusion and wellness with staff who never visit the office.The challenge of providing ongoing client reviews at the beginning of the pandemic was swiftly overcome by the adoption of Teams or Zoom meetings. This was a world-wide adoption and therefore the servicing of clients other than for those who did not wish to participate in video-meetings, was not a problem. The challenge now is to understand how the clients wants to receive their ongoing service post-pandemic and to ensure is delivered in a way that suits their needs.
1. The pandemic has accelerated digital integration in the advice process
Staff working remotely and clients being serviced via Zoom/Teams meetings has resulted in more progressive firms utilising technology in how their staff work and the provision of information to clients.
There is more adoption of client portals for client communication, faster introduction of digital signatures and development of shorter communication and approval strategies are three examples.
2. Returning to an office-based environment will be a challenge and we have to develop a hybrid working model that considers culture, inclusion and wellness.
We have to develop working practices for staff that more accurately reflect their needs and requirements in the post pandemic world. There will have to be flexible working practices that allow for different need for example:
- Staff with children who will see the benefit of working from home fitting in with childcare needs.
- Staff who remain concerned about commuting on busy trains/buses and would benefit from commuting outside rush hour.
- Younger staff who have poor home working conditions and want to work from their offices on a full-time basis.
3. Roles have to be considered on their merit as to whether they can operate full time on a remote basis.
Financial advisers have traditionally had a more remote working environment where they have spent considerable amounts of time working out of the office, primarily seeing clients. This will probably continue.
However, more traditional office-based roles will have to be considered on their merits and speaking with individual members of staff about their needs/requirements will be an essential part of the ongoing model.
4. Clients have developed new methodologies and we will have to develop models that embrace a number of routes to servicing a client.
Clients have embraced Zoom/Teams meetings but, how will they want to work with firms in a post-pandemic world? The best solution is to ask them and be flexible. Offer meetings at home, via Zoom/Teams or in the office. However, clients want to be communicated to, it will need to be recorded on the back-office system.Also, for those firms that have traditionally seen all clients in their offices, there is an added challenge. Clients may be concerned about travelling into an office environment and may request home visits. If this is the case, these firms could become less productive, the opposite of what is happening with the majority of firms.