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Building trust virtually is possible, say advisers

Building trust virtually is possible, say advisers

Trust can be built up with a client virtually even if face-to-face relationships are not possible, according to planners reflecting on the lessons learned from the past 18 months.

At today's FTAdviser Financial Advice Forum, Gretchen Betts, managing director of Magenta Financial Planning, and Rebecca Aldridge, managing director for Balance: Wealth Planning Limited, said it was important to maintain communication and build trust with clients - even remotely.

Betts commented: "It is about listening to clients, understanding their needs and helping them set clear goals. Yes, it is also about using technology in a way that best suits clients, but above all the client is buying you, how you are with them when you speak on a call or greet them at the door."

Building relationships through frequent communication and listening to clients' fears, hopes and financial goals is key towards fostering long-term relationships that benefit not only the client but also the advice business, the panel said.

During the pandemic, advisers have been on-call to point clients towards resources and referrals for financial, emotional, mental, physical and social wellbeing.

Aldridge said it was important that advisers go beyond the basic email for the yearly review into "building relationships - just as you would maintain a relationship with a school friend that you might only see once a year."

The panel was asked how advisers can build on these relationships to help protect not only their clients’ financial wellbeing, but also their own businesses.

Also discussed was how futureproofing a client’s financial wellbeing can lend itself to long-term relationships for the advice business.

Aldridge said: "We need to be real, to be human. And part of that is taking the time to really find out about our clients, not just arrange their investments."

She added her firm has been building up trust with new and existing clients during the pandemic, even when face-to-face communications were not possible, by being available and providing resources such as frequent videos for clients to watch that helped to educate and inspire confidence in potential and existing clients.

simoney.kyriakou@ft.com