Many of us in the advisor community have experienced a rapid shift to remote work in the past couple of weeks. Like everyone else, we are navigating through unprecedented times in the wake of COVID-19.
The role of financial advisors is particularly unique because it is highly interactive in nature. We spend a great deal of time face-to-face with our clients and colleagues. The shift to remote work and proactive social distancing means advisors will be required to digitize operations and rely more heavily on virtual communications.
This is a major shit for our industry. We’re all in this together, trying to figure things out as we go. This is why our team at Finaeo has compiled the following list of tools and best practices advisors can take to help make the transition to remote work a little smoother.
1. Schedule meetings and client appointments as you normally would, but provide virtual means to do so.
Just like everyone else, your clients have had to process a lot of information in the last couple of weeks. They may or may not be ready to seek advice from their advisor about what this means for their financial situation.
Just be sure to provide clear instructions for your clients, if necessary, so they are comfortable using the tools you recommend.
2. Check with your MGA or BGA about their closed office policies.
Your affiliated Managing General Agency (MGA) or Broker General Agency (BGA) may have updated their policies or instructions on how to submit applications for the time being. Be sure you are up to speed on any relevant changes.
As often as possible, leverage their non-paper options, such as e-apps, pre-authorized payments, etc.
3. Digitize client intake forms, contracts and other traditionally analog paperwork.
Tools like DocuSign are great for transforming regular files into signable PDFs. This is an effective tool to help advisors get clients across the line without the need to print, scan and physically sign documents.
4. Back-up company data and essential log-in credentials to ensure critical information is accessible.
The last thing you want is to be locked out of tools or documents that are essential to getting your job done. Try to ensure all of your company data is backed up securely and your log-in credentials are stored safely (you can use tools like Dashlane, 1Password or Keeper to store your passwords).
5. Use this time to make incremental improvements to your advisory practice.
Take this opportunity to get organized!
Digitize your client files. Centralize your documents through tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, Confluence or OneDrive. Ensure you and your team can access important information from remote locations.
Or, you can get creative. Write a blog post to offer additional value to your clients. Explore new avenues of marketing you haven’t had the opportunity to test before.
6. Stay connected with the world. Social distancing does not mean we can’t talk to one another.
Call/text your family, friends, clients and colleagues — even if it’s just to say hello.
Keep in mind that clients may take longer to respond, as they’re likely remote as well. Considering several schools are closed at this time, they may be trying to balance working from home with caring for their children. You can use this time to build and strengthen relationships virtually by offering a helping hand or a text showing concern.
7. If you’re managing a team, help everyone remain connected.
Schedule in regular (we recommend daily) check-ins with each team member. Also include “spontaneous” non-work related check-ins, just to see how your team is doing under the circumstances.
8. Try to mimic your work culture at home.
Have a dedicated workspace at home that’s separate from your living space.
Also, instead of cancelling your team socials, try to host them virtually through a video conferencing tool.
9. Give your clients and online community a break from anxiety-inducing news updates.
Several of us are reaching a level of fatigue with content surrounding COVID-19 crisis and panic. Try sharing uplifting resources and positive content once in a while to lighten the mood.
Lastly, remember to take good care of yourself and your team — both physically and mentally. Working remotely for long periods of time can be an adjustment and the reality is, it can get lonely. Make sure you are maintaining as much of your “regular” daily routine as possible — such as eating healthy, exercising, staying hydrated, checking in with your friends and family, etc.
The current situation is new to all of us; we’re all experiencing this for the first time. Be kind and patient with yourself, and focus on what’s within your reach and ability to control. Remember, we’re all in this together.