The way we work has been affected in many ways by the pandemic that shut down the world in 2020.
One of the biggest ways in which our lives have been affected is the way we communicate with other people, especially with companies. Many clients would now much rather hold a virtual meeting with a professional adviser, rather than taking additional time out of their day to meet face-to-face.
While this sounds easy enough, it is important to consider the new challenges and risks that come with taking client instructions virtually.
Here, we cover red flags to look out for, as well as common issues in the virtual world; all of which will assist you in understanding who your client is, as well as managing your risk throughout your interactions with the client.
Risks and how to manage them
When meeting a client virtually, can you be certain that there is no one else in the room with them who could be influencing their decisions?
It is also worth considering who has set up the meeting, who is paying for the work being instructed; is it the client directly, or a family member who could be influencing the decisions the client is making?
Is correspondence coming directly from the client, for example, from their email address, or is everything being organised through a third party?
We should always be looking to improve the client journey, with a convenient and effective service for them being the top priority.
Many clients embrace the use of new technology and clients and professionals alike are beginning to appreciate that the correct use of new technology may also limit the risks for vulnerable clients of a face-to-face meeting with professional advisors.
As well as meeting virtually, all storage of client information and documents may now be held electronically rather than in hard copy storage, reducing the need for copying, printing, and scanning.
Not only does this reduce costs for both the professional and the client, but it also allows for easier and more comprehensive file analysis in the future as well as creating a clean audit trail and facilitating efficient supervision and oversight.
Anything that safely and securely speeds up document preparation for clients is attractive as we all move towards providing an ‘Amazon’ level of efficiency in our service to clients.
While we are considering meeting more clients virtually, we should also be considering sending and collecting more documentation virtually and obtaining signatures on these documents virtually, especially when it comes to important deeds and documents.
We all know that the postal service can never be relied upon 100 per cent of the time, and important documentation such as client ID should not be sent by means where it may be exposed to loss or misdirection.