Catriona McCarron, wealth manager at Ascot Wealth Management also sees some advantages and disadvantages of taking on new clients via Zoom, as she points out: “It can be difficult to gauge the ‘soft’ facts that drive the client’s priorities, as there is less small talk than in face-to-face meetings. Usually an office-based meeting involves a coffee and a bit more light ‘getting to know someone’ conversation − even just remarks about finding the office or comments on their family.
“Nonetheless, being able to share my fact find or risk questionnaire on screen, while working through the client’s answers is great for ensuring that all essential information is captured.
“And after each discovery meeting, we always send a follow-up report reiterating our understanding, which can lead to clients mentioning other areas they’d like to discuss, or clarifying information on pension values, for example.”
Screen sharing is also helpful in other ways, as Ms McCarron says: “Often a client will ask a question on our portfolios, and rather than following up on email later, I can share my screen and give them a live illustration of performance.”
Ross Leckridge, associate director at Johnston Carmichael Wealth has also found this beneficial: “I’ve been able to bring up documents, such as investment fact sheets, and example cash-flow models to help demonstrate my point. These visual aids can really help.”
Ms McCarron has also found that working with clients via Zoom saves time and further enhances client service, as she explains: “We’ve found that clients working from home can be slightly more flexible with meeting times. We’re conducting quicker 30-minute catch ups, which saves travel time to and from either office. This means we have more time for servicing the client’s needs and it increases our follow-up communication speed”.
Mr Leckridge takes a similar view: “Meetings tend to be easier to organise, and happen sooner, because clients don’t have to factor in travel times and arrangements. As long as we both have a spare hour on a given day, we can log on and hold our meeting online, so meetings are not exactly spontaneous, but they don’t have to be planned so far in advance.”
So are video calls here to stay? Mr Churchouse says: “It’s the way forward, for the next six months and it hasn’t been difficult, as clients have expected it”.
He is, however, less convinced that Zoom is interchangeable with seeing clients in person, as he concludes: “It works very well, but doesn’t replace a face-to-face meeting, where you can see nuances that you don’t get on a Zoom call.”