Face to face advice: over-hyped?

ended 03. February 2022

Newspage is now supplying IFA Magazine with content. In short, we'll be able to get you regularly quoted in a quality industry trade (alongside the consumer-facing stuff). Our first article is on face-to-face advice in the post-pandemic age. Some Qs below:

  • Roughly what % of your client interaction is done on a face-to-face, in-person basis compared to pre-pandemic?
  • Are Zoom, Teams and the like now your default setting for advice, or do you still prefer real-world meetings where possible?
  • If you're speaking to a prospective client for the first time, and they're not local to you, what would you prefer: a video call or a standard mobile? And why…
  • Is the future of financial advice real-time and always-on, with clients able to book in digital meetings on demand?
  • Are you finding advice is shifting from one or two meetings annually to a more agile, and ‘on-demand’ service?

No need for an essay. Just a sentence or two for each question will do. Try and add some va va zoom. Unleash your inner Hunter S Thompson.

6 responses from the Newspage community

I think things have settled down now and what has significantly changed is the use of a phone vs video with people really comfortable with video over phone calls. As we work in a relationship business, it feels you connect better on video and I think we all have enough of holding on phone lines for other businesses that we all have to deal with. I run 2 scheduled meetings a year - one remote and one face to face and obviously ad hoc meetings also would be remote unless i know I'm in London, for example, already that day and I'll make the effort for a face to face then too. For a new client it would always be remote video in the first instance.
Roughly what % of your client interaction is done on a face-to-face, in-person basis compared to pre-pandemic? We are doing more and more over Zoom, but cash flows are often face-to-face due to the complexities. We make sure our clients have a choice. Are Zoom, Teams and the like now your default setting for advice, or do you prefer real-world meetings where possible? Meeting for the first time in the real world is always best to build trust… you get so much more from human contact. If you are speaking to a prospective client for the first time, and they’re not local to you, what would you prefer: a video call or a standard mobile? And why… Whatever the client wants suits us. But we can reach clients anywhere now, on any timezone. Not to mention that my team can also be anywhere now; we are very flexible with workspaces. Is the future of financial advice real-time and always-on, with clients able to book in digital meetings on demand? In my opinion, flexibility is key. There will always be a time to meet face-to-face but meeting digitally will improve our operational efficiency. However, we hope to combine in-person meetings with digital aspects – like digital brochures, discovery forms, surveys etc. We have a new app launching which will digitise the client experience. Clients will be able to message their adviser directly (in an whatsapp style) and book meetings.
Around 25% of our firm's client interaction is now done face to face, this compares to almost 100% pre-pandemic. There has been a huge shift towards using the likes of Zoom and Teams as part of the advice process and for reviews. For prospective clients we will usually arrange a short initial discussion over the telephone and then it is the client's choice whether to receive advice face to face or via Zoom, Teams and the like. Post pandemic we have found that most clients are happy meeting on a non-face to face basis. For clients that are not local a video call is ideal, we would usually go down this route, although for the techophobes out there we are happy to do meetings on the telephone. Technology means that firms are no longer limited to concentrating on a region or locality. The future of advice has been accelertated over the past 2 years, clients expect to be able to view their arrangements online and have greater ongoing interaction with their adviser as well and ongoing reviews.
- Pre-pandemic I held all my meetings face to face in my office. Since the pandemic I would say that this has reduced to 25%-30%. - I much prefer to meet new clients face to face. I find it is much easier to interact and build a relationship with someone when you can look into the white of their eyes. When you use Zoom/Teams there is always a little bit of unavoidable awkwardness. I now offer clients the choice of how to meet, but I let new clients know that my preference is face to face. - With existing clients, whom I have met in person in the past, video calls work very well. - I do not offer telephone call meetings for new clients. If they are not local and cannot meet face to face, then a video call is the next bet thing. I do not think I would trust someone with my life savings if they are not prepared to show me what they look like and how they behave, so why should my clients? - We give our clients access to our diaries so that they can book in meetings at a time to suit them. But this does not mean we are available 24/7. We set the time parameters and they can find the most convenient time to suit their needs. - We have always offered clients an Annual Planning Meeting alongside access to us during the year for any help and advice that they need. We tend to find that most years an annual meeting is sufficient, and that if there is anything special to discuss, clients will call/email us so that we can deal with these issues as and when they arise.
Video calls are a great help and enable us to better connect with clients remotely, especially those who live some distance from the office. They offer a significant saving in travel time for me and my clients. However, despite all the advantages of video calls, I still find most clients prefer face-to-face meetings. In fact, when I had to self-isolate last year and had to cancel my face-to-face meetings, not one client wanted a Zoom meeting. Instead, every client asked that I rearrange the face-to-face meetings for my return to the office. Even with the pandemic, approximately 70% of our meetings are still face-to-face. So, whilst video calls are a great addition to our service, I doubt they will ever fully replace that face-to-face meeting.
We're a fully online advisory business, via video chat and phone call. We provide clients with a diary link so they can pick a convenient time and book the meeting themselves. All our meetings are either via phone call or video chat. More clients select phone call than video chat. We've found the pandemic has brought 'facetime fatigue' so people often just like to have an old fashioned call with us, especially if we've already previously met face-to-face on a video chat. Video chats are great for first meetings, building a rapport and getting to know your customer is much easier when you can see a face. There will always be some clients who require or prefer an in-person meeting. However, the default acceptable form of communication in society is changing and digital meetings are the future whether you like it or not. We offer a structured approach to the customer journey which requires two meetings as a minimum. We also interact with our customers in a more agile manner throughout the journey, to keep them updated and ensure a great experience.