Preparing for a Post-Pandemic World: 3 Key Tips for Financial Advisors
For over a year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses and consumers alike to grow accustomed to meeting online. After so much of this distanced interaction, the pandemic appears to be coming under control. As vaccination rates spread, the CDC has relaxed safety protocols such that in-person business meetings are once more becoming possible, especially between vaccinated individuals.
This is excellent news for financial advisors, as building a personal rapport with clients is vital to a successful practice, and that sort of relationship is much easier to establish in person than online. But even as face-to-face meetings become acceptable once more, it is vital both for public health and the comfort and confidence of one’s clients to provide clear communication about safety precautions.
Get The Word Out
Financial advisors who plan to resume in-person meetings should let existing and potential clients know this option is returning. It is important at this time to check and update all email lists and send out communications detailing any changes in plans or protocols. Financial advisors who have embraced social media are in especially good standing here. These spaces for engagement provide a wonderful opportunity to get the word out to established clients while also catching the attention of individuals looking to begin face-to-face meetings with a new advisor. In the course of making these announcements, financial advisors should always stress the safety measures they mean to implement, as well as their commitment to communicating with and listening to their clients.
Precautions Are Key
Returning to in-person meetings does not mean returning to the way things were before COVID-19. The coronavirus is still at large within the population and even with vaccinations and careful safety measures, there is still a chance of contracting this dangerous illness at a face-to-face meeting. Thus, even with the current CDC guidelines, clients returning to meet in person should be provided with new and more rigorous safety practices for the foreseeable future.
As accustomed as business professionals are to beginning any meeting with a handshake, do not insist on this and make clear to clients that such contact is optional. Regardless of whether clients are comfortable shaking hands, hand sanitizer should be available. Other sorts of PPE such as gloves and disposable face-masks should be on-hand, and holding meetings wearing masks and remaining at a distance of six feet apart should be possible if that is what the client requires. Meetings can also be held outside if such spaces are acceptable, and one can minimize paper sharing by encouraging clients to bring their own tablets, phones, and laptops to review any documents.
Transparency and Flexibility
Proper communication with clients about safety measures may well be even more important than the measures themselves. Face-to-face meetings are meant to build trust and rapport, and there is no better way to demonstrate trustworthiness and protect a relationship than to explain clearly before the client even arrives what precautions and options are available to ensure everyone feels safe attending the meeting.
Financial advisors must consider and convey their own needs as well. It is better to hold meetings in masks and socially distanced than it is to be tense and uncomfortable in one’s own place of business. In this same vein, if a client would prefer to keep meetings online for the time being, they should know this choice is perfectly acceptable. Coming out of such a tense and dangerous period, safety and comfort should be everyone’s first concern.
The pandemic is by no means over and we must take care not to pressure ourselves or our clients. Business practices will return to normal — or find a new normal — in due time, and all we can do is adjust day by day. Just as we come out of the pandemic cautiously and intelligently, we should use our best judgment to create a safe and encouraging environment for our clients to return to a world of handshakes and in-person financial advice.
Christopher Crawford is the Director of Advisor Relationships for the Buffalo Funds. He has 10 years of experience in the financial services industry, previously holding positions at Invesco, IMA Financial Group, and Arthur J. Gallagher. At the Buffalo Funds, Christopher works with investment consultant relations, key account management, institutional distribution and client service. His main goal is to partner with advisors to bring business building ideas and provide unparalleled customer support to their business, always striving to make it easy and reliable to work with the entire Buffalo Funds investment team. Christopher received an M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.S.F.A. from Southern Methodist University. He also holds licenses for the Series 7, Series 63, and Series 65.