Navigating the technology-led environment

This article is part of
Guide to client recruitment during the pandemic

While people have generally been patient about the impact of the pandemic on service levels, Mr Leckridge believes that the current situation cannot continue: “Clients have been pretty understanding,” he reflects: “I think everybody understands the challenges and pressures brought on by this massive and sudden shift in working practices, and they’ve given allowances for this where they can. That won’t last forever though. 

“We all expect companies to adapt to the current circumstances, because it doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon. 

"So, if investment in new technology is needed in order to simply get companies back to where they were six months ago, then that’s what they’ll have to do. 

"Or they’ll be left behind by their competitors who either invested better before anybody had even heard of Covid-19, or who have reacted better since.”

Advisers adapting to technology

Some advisers have been adapting their practices to make more use of technology, including consolidator and wealth-management firm, the Fairstone Group, which launched ZETO, a digital, remote-advice process, in August.

Others had been moving further online too, as Mr Leckridge explains: “Thankfully, we moved to an online-based back-office system a number of years ago.

"So, we’ve been able to continue to deliver the same level of service to our clients pretty much uninterrupted. 

"Review meetings are all held online now, using Microsoft Teams mostly, and all of the pre-and post-meeting analysis and administration can be done by the technical team members wherever they’re based, and then made available for the adviser to access online”. 

Speed and foresight were key for decisions about technology when lockdown started, says Anna Sofat, associate director at Progeny: “We ‘bit the bullet’ quite early and decided to work as if this was going to be the new normal rather than only for a few weeks.

“We switched to virtual meetings, using Webex rather than Zoom, as we wanted a robust and secure means of communicating with clients. We also have a client portal for sharing documents securely.

"There is a bit of ‘handholding’ with clients, though – you can bring the technology, but clients need to be able to use it. We’ve become something of an IT helpdesk." 

For some, working online was business as usual. Sam Sloma, managing director at Engage Financial Services says: “We’re lucky in that we were relatively tech-led prior to the pandemic, so lockdown was not a huge issue from a technological standpoint.

He adds: “There were some difficulties with providers, but there are more important things than provider service levels during a global pandemic”.