We are now into a second year of new remote work rules, precipitated by the pandemic. Large numbers of financial advisors have become accustomed to working from home.
While the forced shutdowns hurt a lot of industries and individual businesses, financial planning, in general, not only survived but prospered, virtual interactions helped, not hindered, business, it seems.
Thus, the field test of remote worksites has led to a wave of independent advisory firms abandoning the traditional office space for permanent home offices.
A New Experience for Advisors
A large number of financial advisors have used the pandemic as an opportunity to shut their offices, thus saving on rent and travel time. Even before the pandemic some of the advisors were trying to migrate more of their business toward a virtual setting when possible but feared some resistance from clients. Now they have come to realize, people are used to it. Advisors started getting new clients, without ever meeting in person.
Incredibly, financial advisors have discovered that the pandemic has given the home office legitimacy. Working from a home office might have been considered by some clients less professional before the pandemic, but Covid changed that attitude. The impact of working from home during Covid-19 has changed client perceptions for good.
A huge number of people had to work from home during the peak of the pandemic, and it became clear that some were well suited for this work environment while others were not. It appears entrepreneurs and particularly financial advisors, fall into the first category.
Apart from saving money, working from home turned out to be a lot more efficient for a large number of advisors. Even after the pandemic some of them are reconsidering not having a traditional office at all.
Virtual Client Interactions Prove Successful
For advisors that have been trying to use tech and increase virtual interactions with clients, but were reluctant to push too hard, the pandemic forced the issue, and ultimately their reluctance was unfounded.
Clients, for the most part, haven’t complained about not being able to meet in person. Furthermore, working remotely has proved efficient for advisors. So, advisors don’t have any reason to go back to normal, we live in a new normal, after all.
Financial advisors realize that the transition to working from home has been quite smooth and virtual client interactions are succeeding. Another timely possibility for an advisor, in addition to a home office, is to get a membership at Common Desk, a company that provides short-term and temporary office space. It is much cheaper than renting a real office space.
In terms of transitioning clients to embrace more technology for meetings and other interactions, advisors notice that their older clients have been the most receptive, especially when they learn from advisors how much money is being saved, allowing them to keep their fees relatively low.
Now clients can see for themselves which advisors keep their fancy offices and how much of that cost is being passed on to the clients.
Even those advisors who have been skeptical about virtual meetings, particularly with regards to the sharing financial, now admit that the cost advantages are pretty appealing when you remove the single biggest expense, rent.
Advantages and Drawbacks of Virtual Communication
But not all advisors are convinced virtual interactions and home offices are the best way to develop deep and lasting relationships with clients.
Some financial advisors point out that clients and advisors are human beings and need human contact to interact efficiently. The pandemic has revealed that things can be done remotely, but people are getting Zoom fatigue. Some clients really value stability, so meeting in a coffee shop or temporary office will not build confidence in them and won’t help establish a relationship that will last for decades.
On the other hand, a large number of advisors found that working with clients outside of an office setting usually results in better conversations. Virtual interacting proves efficient for most clients. The downside of working from home full time could be the feeling that a person is working all the time, and there’s no separation from it.
Of course time management might be an adjustment for anyone working from home full time but most advisors seem pleasantly surprised that clients have been welcoming the shift toward more virtual interactions and generally less face-to-face meetings. They assume that the future is not for the traditional offices but for working from home and virtual communication.
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