Age of the Virtual Advisor

By  Derek Condon

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LinkedIn is a platform that I really like. It’s a great way to connect with other professionals and build your network. I think of LinkedIn as a way to stay up to speed with other professionals, to be in a position to support them, and a way to build or maintain the relationships that are so important. One thing I don’t like is the constant messages from people I don’t know trying to sell me products or services, just like any other platform.

Before COVID-19 shut down the world, I received a genuine message from someone so I followed up with them. We had a call and talked about business and prospecting as a Financial Advisor. He asked me who my ideal clients are, and my response focused on people living in and around Winnipeg, and he asked me why just Winnipeg?

It was hard to see or imagine at the time, all that would happen with the COVID-19 outbreak, and meeting face to face is slowly becoming something of the past. It really brought out the tools that we all knew about, but I don’t think knew the importance of yet. Things like Zoom, and all of the technology that we have access to in order to make our lives easier.

I was once a part of a group plan through a previous employer. I had RRSP’s and they were invested through a major company here in Canada. On the statements I received, it stated two things that I always thought were surprising:

  1. It was my responsibility to pick my own investments.
  2. It was up to me to plan for my own retirement and planning.

This was surprising to me because I did have an ‘appointed Advisor’, but when I looked into it, it turns out she lived 2,000 km away. And that made sense because in my 5 years of being apart of that group plan, I never was reached out by her or any other human once. I never want to become that advisor.

This made me want to be better than what I have experienced myself. To be able to help clients, and be accessible for them. So to me, wanting to cater to clients I wouldn’t be able to meet with in-person, wasn’t really the right way to do business. The reason why I said people living in and around Winnipeg was because I had never thought of being able to realistically do it another way while still offering someone their very best option.

Then COVID Happened

I was in the mindset of thinking about how I could broaden my clientele, and COVID put a lot of people in a position where they had to turn virtual. What I began thinking about for a fun way to expand my business, then became the reality of the times extremely quickly. Almost feels like overnight.

The big hurdle for me with becoming virtual was making sure I could still provide the best possible service to someone. Not just my best, but better than anywhere.

What I found is you don’t have to meet in-person to understand someone’s situation and to help them with what you can. In fact, a lot of professionals don’t meet their clients or prospects in-person, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do their jobs effectively.

As we move into the Age of the Virtual Advisor, here are some things I think we (as Advisors) can do for our clients:

  1. Be available . Sometimes I work more on the weekends than I do during the week, just depending on what I have to do. I’m sure other people are in the same situation. Being available to clients lets them know you’re here, even if that’s not in a physical sense. My rule is if a client contacts me and I’m not busy at that moment, I’ll respond, no matter the time of day. It’s easy to do.
  2. Be creative.  There are a lot of tools out there we can use to make our lives easier, and I think it’s a good idea to explore them. If we all work from a distance, we have to be creative in the ways we work to set us apart from the competition. We can also find new ways to make what we do better for the client, and easier for us.
  3. Be patient . It’s reasonable to expect that there will be a lot of hiccups along the way. Both in the new way you do business, and for the clients you’re trying to do business with. I think being patient is going to be more important than ever, and being careful not to add more stress to an already stressful and uncertain time.

I believe COVID forced the world of technology to age a number of years quicker than it was supposed to. We saw that in the jump of Zoom stock, currently up over 600% from the start of the year.

As we’ve seen in the past, the businesses that survive challenges are the ones that are able to adapt.

Most Generation Z have no idea what Blockbuster is. As a Millennial growing up, my weekends started with a trip to Blockbuster to rent some movies and video games. They didn’t adapt to the power of the internet, and now every major player is moving to, or has already moved to streaming.

We can’t plan for every possibility, but if we even just harness a little bit of new technology as it’s progressing, it can help us all stay at the top of our games, and deliver the best possible experience to our clients.

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Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.

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