John Phillips, national operations director at Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart, says: “The main concerns around a remote workforce is the loss of teamwork and quick and easy office communication. This is not a huge issue for brokers, a lot of whom are used to working as lone wolves.”
But continuing to hold remote meetings post-lockdown brings potential benefits for both advisers and clients.
Quilter’s Young says: “Stripping out the need to travel gives advisers and clients multiple hours back in the day, as well as helping provide some ‘green’ credentials. These hours may be utilised to provide more advice, upskill or simply to give a better work/life balance.”
Incorporating client feedback
Paradigm Consulting’s Ryder adds that busy clients may welcome the chance not to have to host advisers, or travel to meetings, if a secure and trustworthy remote alternative is available.
In August, financial planner Fairstone launched a remote advice process, known as ‘ZETO’, powered by Microsoft Teams.
Fairstone’s CEO, Lee Hartley, says: “Through ZETO, the ability to screen share, transfer files, execute documents and use illustration in real-time, as well as a two-factor e-sign capability, means that the solution supports client consultations in a secure, fully featured manner.
“When we were developing ZETO we liaised with our clients and advisers, and their feedback was fed into the process. The reaction we have had to date on our ZETO process has been overwhelmingly positive, and the majority of our clients who favour remote advice said that it took less time, was easier to fit into the day and has a positive impact on the environment as it did not involve travel.”
Quilter’s Young also advises on the importance of consulting with clients on the future of a hybrid model: “Take care not simply to ask what the client wants or prefers but ask them how they have found the process during Covid, and how might they see it working going forward.”
While lockdown has caused many to realise the benefits of remote working, Claire Campbell, programme director at flexible working consultancy Timewise, suggests the trend could reverse.
Campbell says: “You may find that currently the preference is to keep many meetings remote, but over time, people are more open to travelling again. So I would keep this a frequent conversation.”
Chloe Cheung is a features writer at FTAdviser