So, this week Mortgage Solutions is asking: With lockdown easing, are you going back to face-to-face meetings?
With an international aspect to our business via our expat clients, Altura has been used to dealing with clients remotely from day one. Internet and video calls via WhatsApp, WeChat, Teams and of course Zoom are all formats our advisers and clients were very used to before lockdown.
Our digital fact-find, electronic know your customer and e-signature software mean we can complete an entire advice and sales process in a secure, compliant manner while still delivering excellent client service.
Pre-lockdown we would still endeavour to meet the vast majority of our UK clients, if only because it’s always nice to meet clients face-to-face. While that hasn’t been possible over the last four months it’s been easy to switch to 100 per cent remote advice.
Clients have been happy to transact accordingly, and relieved to find we’re so well set up to do so.
I expect this trend for remote advice to continue for at least the rest of the year. Very few people I speak to expect to be back in an office before September and even then, only part time.
Where it was most convenient for clients to meet at our City location or their own offices, it’s now the ‘new normal’ to conduct so many activities from the comfort of your own home.
Altura advisers will be flexible to cater to our clients’ needs and preferences, for the rest of the year at least I expect that to mean a high proportion of remote rather than face-to-face advise.
I do plan to go back to face-to-face meetings, and have started to offer them to clients, but most clients take the video call option.
I can see that start to change as we become more used to the new normal, but at the moment people are being cautious, which I understand.
If and when I do start seeing clients face-to-face social distancing would be adhered to and I would be happy to use face masks as long they don’t impede communication.
Having said that I expect that video calls will be become more widely used as a more normal means of conducting meetings, not just now but in the future.
However, there will be certain clients who are not so comfortable with it and will prefer to go back to face-to-face when they feel it is safe to do so.
We have not gone back to face-to-face meetings yet and this is unlikely to happen until we are convinced it is absolutely safe to do so.
I’ve been a big cheerleader for doing business face-to-face in the past, and I hope we will be able to get back to that soon, but I’ve been amazed at how well brokers and clients have adapted.
We are always looking to march with the times at Just Mortgages and deploy whatever technology can best help us get the job done for clients.
Social media has been an important tool for some time now, and many of our brokers were already offering video calls before the lockdown, so making that more of a routine thing didn’t come as that much of a sea-change for us.
When we do go back to face-to-face meetings, we will definitely be implementing any safety measures that will protect our brokers and clients from unnecessary risk of infection – including face masks and screens where appropriate.
Understanding of what helps prevent the spread of the disease is changing all the time but the health and wellbeing of everyone involved is absolutely paramount.
Ultimately, until there’s a proven, widely-available vaccine, we are all going to have to get used to doing things a bit differently, maintaining a sensible distance and so on.
I’m confident we can continue to adapt and advise clients every bit as effectively, with or without a face mask.