BY BRANDON HECKERT
while the pandemic thrust virtual meetings into the spotlight, some advisors were already leveraging the tool years ago as a way of expanding their reach and simplifying the meeting process. With virtual meetings now a norm for many advisors, clients are also showing more interest. According to a 2021 MDRT survey, 52% of Americans with human advisors said they expected to meet with them virtually at least half of the time in 2022. Other respondents went even further, reporting they expected to be 100% virtual thanks to online planning software and video calling tools.
By viewing virtual tools as a key value add for your business, rather than just a necessary convenience when being together in person isn’t an option, you’ll find new ways to streamline your operations and provide more flexibility for your clients.
Financial planning anywhere, any time
By the time I joined FSM Wealth in 2016, the team was already implementing virtual meetings after realizing that the town where we were based had a limited number of potential clients due to its small population. To expand our scope, we began meeting virtually with people in other states. When I joined the firm, in fact, we already had clients in more than half of the United States.
As we continued to build a presence in various areas, I had the opportunity to move to California with my fiancée. As this was before the pandemic made remote work so prevalent, this relocation probably would not have been possible had I worked elsewhere. However, seeing as we were already expanding our client reach through virtual means, I was able to set up shop in my new home state without issue. This allows me to continue to connect with long-standing clients while making new connections all over the country.
pandemic, our clients were already accustomed to meeting online. For roughly three years, I did not meet
a single client face-to-face, yet our business boomed, growing by more than 100 new clients. This growth stemmed from our dedication to building trusting relationships with clients from their very first meeting. We’ve even coined a motto for our clients: “It doesn’t matter where we are, it only matters where you want to go.”
Additional benefits of virtual meetings
Beyond making new connections, meeting virtually with clients can help to streamline the process of financial (or insurance) planning by simply eliminating the commute. Rather than driving for a half hour one way to the office, clients can use that same time to meet with our team from the comfort of their home or the convenience of their workplace, all without worrying about traffic, gas prices or the extra hour spent in the car.
This also means that some clients can meet during times they regularly wouldn’t be available. Maybe a client only has an hour to meet during their lunch break, which is insufficient time to get together in person but is possible with a virtual meeting. More opportunities to meet — after taking out additional time and stress from travel — means better potential to retain clients who have busy lives.
When meeting virtually, we almost always have our clients share their screen to review their financials. Rather than searching for paper statements or trying to show their information on a phone screen, we work through their plan together online after they simply find an email or login to an account. Aside from the time-saving benefits, we’ve also found clients are able to provide more accurate information and are better equipped to ask relevant questions when they’re already online and logged in.
Another benefit of meeting virtually is the ability to easily share our screen and work through our financial planning software. Walking clients through the plan we have created for them from the comfort of their home, or wherever they choose to be at the time, is easy thanks to a user-friendly digital dashboard. As our clients have become more comfortable with technology as a part of their meeting, this feels like a natural addition to the financial planning process that ensures everyone is of the same frame of mind and there are no missed connections in the client’s plan.
While there is something special about being able to shake someone’s hand at the beginning of a meeting, there are many benefits to allowing clients the option of working virtually. Virtual meetings are more than just a necessity from a time when in-person meetings weren’t possible — they’re a value add that can help you grow your business like I’ve grown mine.
BRANDON HECKERT, CFP, AAMS, Financial advisor, partner, joined FSM Wealth, Inc. as an advisor in 2016, leaning on past experiences as a Financial Advice Specialist, advising representatives on advanced financial planning strategies. A five-year MDRT member, Brandon spoke at the 2019 MDRT Annual Meeting and 2019 MDRT Global Conference. Contact: email@example.com 618-327-3267 ext: 111