Video Conferencing: Taking a Personalized Approach to Virtual Financial Advice
Most of us have become accustomed by now to using a video conferencing platform. Whether it’s for weekly check-ins with family or for regular updates with colleagues and team members, video chats are part of our new way of life. They’ve also become a standard method to engage with clients. With every indication pointing to the sustained impact of a long-lasting pandemic and with COVID-19 safety measures in place in many parts of the world, tapping into the benefits of video conferencing is more important now than ever before in establishing a personalized connection with existing and potential clients.
The Benefits of Video Conferencing
There is a range of benefits to using video technology to communicate with your clients. The number one benefit is that it helps you maximize your time. With no travel and little set up required, each client meeting occurs at a predetermined, scheduled time. It also does not matter where you or your client is located. You could be speaking to someone on the other side of the country from the convenience of your vacation home. This flexibility also extends to your ability to cope with emergencies. If someone calls you in the middle of the night to handle an important transaction, you are prepared to resolve the issue immediately. On the other side, clients experience similar benefits in terms of time and convenience. There is great comfort in knowing that your financial advisor is only a virtual chat away if you need advice or assistance at a moment’s notice.
Tips and Tricks
The convenience that video conferencing offers to others is why maximizing the capabilities inherent in virtual chats can help showcase your expertise to new and existing clients. Here are a few simple ways to leverage this tool so that it works to your advantage:
Think in High-Definition
Start by assessing your current equipment. Do people constantly say that they are unable to hear you during a call? Does your image look dark or blurry on the screen? The person on the other end needs to see and hear you clearly so that conversations are seamless and coherent. Consider upgrading your hardware and equipment to get the highest video and audio qualities. This may include investing in an updated webcam, a spotlight or ring light for your workstation, and a new headset or microphone. You should also consider your internet speed to ensure the video feed isn’t grainy or pixelated and comes across smoothly without interruption.
Maintain a Professional Appearance
Your clients look to you for sound advice and a reasoned approach to tough financial decisions. This is where appearance does matter. Looking put together and being properly dressed is a small way to convey professionalism. Similarly, there is nothing as distracting as a pile of clothes or dishes behind you when speaking to someone by video chat. Setting up a dedicated office space may be impossible, but ensuring that any part of your room that is visible on camera is free of clutter creates a sense of order. It also sets the stage for a calm and productive conversation with your client.
Multitasking may be tempting, but it’s noticeable when someone is caught checking his or her email or phone during a video conference call. Think of your in-person meetings. You are unlikely to scroll through your messages on your phone when someone is in front of you. Stay active as a listener and show the person you are speaking with that their concerns are your priority.
Know Your Demographics
During these challenging times when virtual communication is often the safest, creating a personalized touch to every client relationship is crucial. While it’s important to have all the basic mechanics in place to conduct a video conference that is free of any technical issues or distractions, it is also just as vital to measure a person’s comfort level with new tools and to understand how each individual engages with technology.
For older adults, video conferencing may not be the most intuitive form of communication. This can be a source of huge frustration. There are three major obstacles to digital adoption: access, skill, and intimidation. As such, it’s up to financial advisors to support these clients with additional resources. Help set up a new account on a user-friendly conferencing platform or ask if they would like recommendations on a password reminder that can securely store their passwords. If a client is unaccustomed to using technology to communicate, be patient and review each step carefully. Create a graphic or simple outline that breaks down each step of a process that may be difficult to follow, such as logging into a platform or online tool. You can also try helping older clients overcome feeling intimidated by new technology by installing any required applications on a tablet and dropping it off to them to use. Whether it’s spending extra time to explain part of a digital process or it’s physically providing the necessary tools for them to use, you can offer the right support to remove video conferencing barriers for older adults.
On the other hand, younger clientele are likely to be more tech savvy. They consume digital content regularly and want more authentic connections. Stand out from other casual online interactions by being an asset to these clients. Frequent, brief communication is key, as are check-ins that go beyond the numbers in their portfolios. Take the time to understand their interests and find ways to engage with them in a meaningful way. Did a client mention on your video call that they were just listening to a podcast about growing herbs at home? Follow up your call with an email that includes links to books they can order online to help create an indoor garden, and then drop a care package of different seeds in the mail for them. It’s small, personal gestures that go beyond a video call that will help you establish a connection.
Video Conferencing is Here to Stay
With virtual forms of communication becoming the new standard within the financial industry, now is the time to refine your strategy when it comes to video conferences. The convenience and flexibility that video chats afford to both advisors and their clients are compelling benefits, but understanding the mentality and needs of the other person behind the screen will be the key to engaging successfully with all clients.
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.