Instead, with so many events taking place remotely now, all that is usually needed is a working device and the attendee’s undivided attention to bring them into the meeting.
So this week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: Has your attendance at industry events increased now many of them are online and how does the experience match-up to in-person gatherings?
Alan Fitzpatrick, director of lending operations at Habito
I would say so, yes. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been really struck by the quality of resources, meetings and webinars now available online for both peers and customers.
In many ways, I see more connection now than before lockdown came into effect.
Being an online-first business, making the transition to remote working has been pretty seamless.
Some things of course are harder to do remotely but in the main we’ve all been pleasantly surprised by how we and so many of our partners and industry players have adapted to a new and ever-shifting normal.
Some aspects of what we do have actually flourished in a way that we didn’t expect. Our monthly buy-to-let meet-ups, for example, which used to attract audiences of around 40 or 50 to our office in Aldgate, can now reach much larger audiences online via webinar software like Zoom.
As part of the Home Buying and Selling Group – which was responsible for producing the industry–wide guidance to safely reopen the housing market last month – I’ve experienced firsthand how collaborative and aligned this sector can be when faced with big issues and challenges that affect us all.
The coronavirus crisis has forced us all to look beyond geographical location, diary clashes, time constraints and to prioritise the things that really matter, quicker.
Jonathan Clark, mortgage partner at Chadney Bulgin
I’ve receive a lot of invites to various industry events and like most people, have to carefully pick the ones to attend that I feel will be worthwhile, and justify what will usually be at least a half day away from the office.
You then have the various awards dinners that seem to have multiplied in the last few years, usually involving an evening in London that rarely gets you back home before midnight.
Obviously, these have all changed very suddenly in the last three months, with most events being cancelled for 2020 and only some of them being replaced by online or virtual equivalents.
For me, the number of such invites has declined, as organisers appear to be struggling to recreate these with appealing content.
Despite the obvious convenience and flexibility of meeting online, for me they are just not a substitute for the face-to-face meetings that I welcome the return of, hopefully in 2021.
However, like many things, I expect them to look and feel very different post Covid-19.
Matthew Hillyer, associate director at Largemortgageloans.com
There has been a plethora of content shared by industry voices since the onset of Covid-19.
Industry events have played a part, but there have also been numerous informative videos, articles and group seminars from lenders which our team have found incredibly useful.
It’s also been fantastic that we can keep up with pre-planned training sessions without having to travel, as we would often normally do.
Canvassing the team, we are all in agreement that smaller events are preferable to mass meetings.
Large gatherings have their place, but interaction is limited, and these events therefore become more of a listening exercise, which is perhaps less helpful than a two-way communication.
As a specialist mortgage adviser, we are always looking to the finer details and ordinarily this means lots of face-to-face meetings with lenders.
Nothing can replicate being in a room together, but keeping online meetings smaller means the atmosphere is more intimate and there is more opportunity for direct conversations, meaning the subject matter is often more relevant and tailored to our needs.
Martin Wade, director at Access Equity Release
Stripping away travel, prep and the faff that often accompanies meetings at any level, we can now be far more efficient in how we spend our time.
For some unknown reason, meetings always seem to be scheduled in hour blocks and there is obviously no discernible reason for this.
Physical meetings with external visitors and even with internal work colleagues often lose 10 per cent or even 20 per cent of their time to pleasantries and water-cooler chit chat.
This appears to happen less so with online events.
We tried to introduce Skype calls internally about two years ago and failed miserably, there was zero interest, so we gave up. But now, the online meeting is undoubtedly here to stay and there are massive savings in terms of time and travel costs.
Also, our attitude has changed enormously. We are all evaluating what is and what is not important.
Leisure and family time for many has increased, and we like it. I have certainly found that online events and meetings are far more focused, content and delivery has already improved over the last three months.
There is no better way to quickly establish rapport and friendship than in person but for the day-to-day purpose of getting stuff done, online events work extremely well.
There is room for improvement of course, we don’t need to fill time and should be happy to cut meetings short if they have served their purpose.