A large part of defining your new operating rhythm will be working out how to prepare and deliver advice virtually – and making sure your clients, staff and suppliers have everything they need.
Virtual advice is not a new concept. Like many financial advisers, you may have been using it for years with clients who are perhaps unwell or with those living in remote locations. Or, this may be an entirely new experience for you and your team.
Now that virtual advice is the only option available, and you need to deliver this advice from your home rather than your office, there are many things you need to take into account. We’ve put together some practical tips for you to consider as you adjust to this new way of working.
Keeping connected with your clients
Few industries rely on relationships as much as the financial advice industry. Your clients look to you for guidance and reassurance – particularly during challenging economic conditions – and it can be difficult to maintain these relationships when you’re unable to meet with them face-to-face.
Communicating with clients checklist
- If you haven’t already done so, send your clients an email explaining how your business will be operating and how you’ll communicate with them from now on. Include contact details for how they can reach you.
- Redirect calls from your office landline to your home landline or mobile.
- Organise face-to-face calls instead of phone calls where possible. It will reassure your clients to see your face while you’re talking to them.
- Set up a dedicated home office that can replicate your office environment as much as possible. Give a thought to the background that will be visible through your camera.
- Email your clients step-by-step instructions about how to set up and operate the technology you’ll be using to communicate with them.
- Assure your clients that your video conferencing conversations will be private.
- Make sure you are well lit (it’s a good idea to position a lamp next to you) and try to minimise any ambient noise from your family or neighbours.
- If you have other people at home, ask them to avoid using the internet while you’re on a video conference call so there’s less chance of your internet freezing or dropping out.
- If you have poor mobile reception but a strong Wi-Fi signal, consider making calls from your computer or laptop by setting up a VOIP line or using a system like Skype.
- Increase your data allowance if needed – many providers offer unlimited data for a reasonable price.
- Consider purchasing a microphone, or headphones with an in-built microphone, so it’s easier for your clients to hear you.
- Be honest with your clients about your timelines. Most of them will understand that it may take longer than normal to get things done.
Fortunately, there are workaround solutions that allow you to stay connected with your clients remotely through video conferencing and online chat. But it’s important to prepare yourself for some teething problems in the beginning while your clients adjust to this new way of communicating with you – especially older clients, who may find the technology confusing or intimidating.
Working with staff and suppliers
Being able to communicate with your clients online is just one of the adaptations you’ll need to make to your business over the coming months. You also need to work out how to collaborate with your staff and suppliers remotely, so you can keep your business as productive as possible and maintain the safety of your business systems and client data.
Collaborating with staff and suppliers checklist
- Ensure your staff have a space and all the tools they need to work from home effectively. This includes access to your systems.
- If your staff can’t access your systems remotely, consider using a cloud-based service such as Google Drive or Dropbox to securely share and collaborate on files.
- Make use of chat tools such as Microsoft Teams or Skype to avoid overusing email and clogging up inboxes.
- Practice safe password management – and encourage your staff and suppliers to do the same.
- Consider taking out cyber insurance as a priority, if you haven’t already.
- Speak to your suppliers about how they are continuing their operations and what changes you and your staff will need to make to accommodate these changes.
- Conduct regular training sessions with staff – this could cover using remote systems, keeping client data secure, or addressing any technological or communication issues.
- If your staff will be conducting client meetings, do a trial run with them first to make sure they are comfortable with the process and everything is working properly.
- Make sure you address key person risk for any critical business roles or processes in case you or one of your staff is unable to work for a period of time.
- Prioritise business activities – especially if you are working with a reduced staff workload. Accept that your business may not be able to operate at the same capacity it did before the crisis began.
- Be flexible. With conditions changing rapidly day-to-day, it’s impossible to be prepared for every possible outcome. The best approach is to be calm and rational, and keep the lines of communication open at all times.
Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (Colonial First State) is the issuer of super, pension and investment products. This is based on the understanding of current regulatory requirements and laws as at April 2020. While all care has been taken in the preparation of this document (using sources believed to be reliable and accurate), to the maximum extent permitted by law, no person including Colonial First State or any member of the Commonwealth Bank Group of companies, accepts responsibility for any loss suffered by any person arising from reliance on this information. This information is for the adviser only and should not be handed on to any investor. This information should only be treated as educational and not taken as any form of advice including but not limited to financial, business, or marketing. Seek professional advice when necessary. It does not take into account any person’s individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) before making any recommendations to a client. Clients should read the PDS and FSG before making an investment decision and consider talking to a financial adviser. The PDS and FSG can be obtained from colonialfirststate.com.au or by calling 13 18 36.