I’ll be the first to say this is challenging and the current lockdown feels perhaps even more difficult because, once again, we have little idea of when it might be eased.
Talk of this continuing until Easter will I’m sure have been incredibly disheartening to many, but we must plough on and hopefully we can support each other in doing this.
We have been trying to do that by holding regular weekly breakfast meetings, inviting advisory firms, providers and others to share their experiences of working again in a lockdown situation, plus utilising all their experience to help with process, individual cases, product options and so on.
What has come up regularly is the ways and means by which advisers are currently working with clients remotely when the sector has traditionally been reliant on face-to-face meetings.
Of course, those are simply not possible at the moment and, it’s fair to say, advisers have needed to utilise online meetings, email and telephone in lieu of those.
It’s been obvious from the conversations we’ve had that some advisers have needed to rethink their process in that regard.
Adapting the process
In a sector which relies so much on soft skills, connections and communication, how do you draw those important elements into your lockdown advice process?
How do you ensure everyone is comfortable with the arrangements, you have all the information required to satisfy yourself as an adviser and ensure you are meeting compliance requirements?
Ideally, you would perhaps like to have a half-way house approach.
One that obviously has to begin with online/phone/email communication but, hopefully can move smoothly back into a potential face-to-face meeting where the adviser can fully explain everything, go through the paperwork, communicate with the client and family.
But, who knows when that might be possible? We might be looking at many months before that’s achievable and even after that point.
And we have to recognise as an advice profession that some clients may still not be comfortable with meeting face-to-face, even after the vaccinations have been rolled out to the entire population.
On the record
One option we are suggesting – which might become an integral part of the advice process anyway – would be to ensure all communications, particularly online meetings, are recorded.
This obviously provides a full record of the client interactions which can be kept on file, but it also offers the adviser a chance to go back and review their own first impressions during those meetings. Just to double-check all the information provided, and to help further your understanding of client motivations, needs, and such.
Face-to-face meetings are often very useful in highlighting certain soft facts and by recording all interactions, not only do you have the chance to review, but you can also go back to the client on any potential issue that is highlighted by a meeting review.
It’s all about threading new ways of working into the process to get the right result and to ensure everyone is comfortable and confident with the recommendations you come to.
This is a twist on the traditional routine but it may provide more cover for you and the client over the course of your interactions.