It is said that humans do not like change.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed so many areas of life – not least the way that people now communicate with one another – that we can no longer be resistant.
The advice industry has begun using new types of technology, or modified the way it is using existing technology, to maintain service levels to clients.
Derrick Dunne, chief executive of Beaufort Financial, observes that, historically, the advice industry has been “paper, people and time-intensive”.
“Thankfully this changed a great deal in the past 10 years, which has allowed us to cope with this sudden change in operating circumstances,” he notes.
Richard Ardron, marketing director of SimplyBiz Group, says that technology has had a big influence in the advisory market for some time and that firms have continued to adopt and embed solutions across all parts of their business to bring about efficiency and to service client needs.
“What I think you are now seeing in the current climate – one which has restricted travel and social contact – is technology becoming more advice-centric and plans being expedited as a direct result of the situation,” he suggests.
Many adviser-client meetings take place in person, either at the advice company’s office or in the client’s home.
Mr Dunne calls the trusted face-to-face relationship a crucial part of the creativity and bonding process.
“Solutions, such as Skype, which we have integrated with Centra, offer the personal contact that we are all lacking at the moment, and the quality of the delivery, coupled with the options to record and bring in other documentation, make it a more than adequate replacement,” Mr Ardron explains.
There are now an array of video calling services that advisers can use to ensure that they keep in contact with clients.
Jamie Smith, a financial adviser at Foster Denovo, says that pre-pandemic it was not unusual to hold some client meetings using online video conferencing facilities, such as Zoom.
But now that all client meetings have moved online it is proving to be a more engaging communication tool.
He adds: “I am pleasantly surprised by how quickly clients, who would never have previously accepted a video conference meeting as a viable alternative to a face-to-face meeting, have embraced this.
“As seasoned users of this technology, we can onboard new clients by completing all necessary client documentation during the meeting online and ‘recording’ client signatures.”
Old technology, new tricks
Video conferencing is a technology that is new to many advisers and their clients. But more technologies, such as email and company websites, are being used slightly differently by advisers to keep their clients – existing and prospective – well informed.
Jay Rooney, a financial adviser at One and All Financial, says he has been sending more emails to clients containing hints and tips, including information about the assistance available to business owners