By Kedar Wilson
I’m assuming you are fatigued by the word “pandemic” or the overuse of “unprecedented” and anything related to it at this point. We decided to add a bit of hopefulness and positivity without ignoring the severity of these past few months, hence the inclusion of the word “post” in the title, as we all hope this will soon be a distant memory.
Once again, this is not to ignore the severity and challenges of these current times. However, as pharma companies race to the finish line for a vaccine that will prevent infection of the virus, the trauma of the “pandemic experience” may linger in your clients’ minds for the months to follow.
So how do you post-pandemic-proof your practice?
Doing so is based on how much you’ve adjusted and adapted your practice over the past months to suit the management of your client relationships. A few months ago, I wrote an article on “Building a Virtual Bridge to Clients” in hopes of helping Financial Advisors ease the burden of communicating with their clients despite the social distancing mandates at the time.
In this article, we’ve listed a few technologies and digital tools that will allow you to post-pandemic-proof your practice with low-to-no cost. These useful software technologies and tools have been utilized by the ETF Think Tank team before the pandemic, and have certainly helped in salvaging relationships due to their ease of use for communicating and reporting. If you were to truly summarize the most vital task of your day-to-day role as a Financial Advisor, communicating and reporting makes up a bulk of it. The following technological tools allow you to carry out those two functions efficiently.
The first software technology that captured our attention in recent months, thanks to Michael Gayed, one of our portfolio managers and contributors to the Lead Lag Report, is an appointment availability tool called Doodle. You may have cringed a bit at the not-so-appealing name, however this technology syncs with zero friction and allows not just you, but others to share their preferred times of availability for future meeting dates. In other words, most appointment booking tools, like Calendly (mentioned below), allow you to show your availability for others to schedule a meeting with you. Doodle allows you to view when others are available and prefer to meet based on their own selections. It does not require them to sync their personal calendars, which many tend to shy away from. This can work wonders with minimizing the back and forth emails with clients, prospects or colleagues in trying to find suitable times for all to meet. They simply select a few days and times that work best for them, then you can find a meeting time that works for both parties.
This customer relationship management (CRM) software is the Tesla of CRM systems. It saves you the headache of having to send multiple follow up emails to remind clients about meetings or prospects. Built within the platform is an email sequencing feature that allows you to create a sequence of emails that will be sent to recipients for a variety of reasons. For example, you can create a sequence for clients or prospects who missed a meeting. All you have to do is write a few emails that you would normally send to clients or prospects who missed a meeting. Next, place those emails into the sequence series boxes, save them, and once you add a client’s email to that particular sequence, it will execute based on the timeframe you scheduled it for. For example, if you wrote 5 follow up emails, Hubspot can send one every 3 days until all 5 emails have been sent, or until the recipient responds – whichever comes first. There are other CRMs that have such features, but Hubspot has mastered the ease of use.
- The ETF Think Tank
The third technological tool pertains to performance reporting and analysis of the ETF portion of your portfolio mix. I personally like to describe the ETF Think Tank technology platform as instantaneous and interactive, because it allows you to analyze individual ETFs instantaneously as well as your entire ETF portfolio models interactively. Besides it being a technological platform, the ETF Think Tank serves as much more with complimentary social media, strategic marketing, digital development and OIO services. The Think Tank was originally built by portfolio managers at Toroso Asset Management for their own internal use. The ETF Think Tank has evolved into what would happen if Morningstar research technology and the Inside ETF annual conference had a “virtual-ETF-only baby.” Considering that the original purpose was to have access to proprietary ETF research, analytical formulas and insights from ETF industry experts globally, my description mirrors its functionality, analytical output and weekly virtual-conferences all under one umbrella. If your client portfolios, or those of your advisor colleagues, consist of ETFs, do yourself (and them) a favor by going to ETFThinkTank.com & email for access.
Calendly is one of the many appointment-booking tools available. From experience, it syncs perfectly with GoTo, Zoom and other virtual meeting technologies. If you’re not familiar with GoTo and Zoom by now, please share how wonderful your life has been in the past few months. However, many of us use these tools daily, and Calendly is the best appointment booking platform when it comes to meeting privacy. Calendly automatically generates a new meeting ID for every appointment you create. This ensures that someone from a prior meeting can’t have access to your existing meeting even though they still have access to their meeting link. The Calendly technology sends an invite to the recipient’s calendar, along with a unique meeting ID that is only accessible by the recipient. That is extremely important as a Financial Advisor, as financial information shared with clients and prospects in meetings is sensitive and confidential. Make sure your appointment booking tool isn’t using the same meeting link for each meeting invite you send. If you don’t agree, I’m certain your compliance officer will.
- GoTo, Teams and Zoom Meeting
You may have heard the recent term “virtual meeting fatigue” frequently in the past few months. Unfortunately, the only way to have a face-to-face meeting without the physical presence is through virtual meeting software. That is, until the great minds of the technology sector figure out how to make holographic imagery affordable and commercialized. Imagine how much more exciting and interesting virtual meetings will become with holograms. Just a wishful thought. Nine months ago, I would have had to share a few paragraphs with you explaining GoToMeeting, Teams or Zoom, but due to the unfortunate pandemic, I need not explain further and won’t undermine your intelligence. However, I do suggest that if you want to switch things up a bit with your client and team meetings, try FaceTiming your clients (if they are comfortable with doing so). This takes away the virtual meeting fatigue and makes the interactions a bit more personal. One last thing as a quick tech tip for these virtual meetings, if you must have them: try disconnecting devices other than the computer you’re using from your Wi-Fi network while on virtual calls. I’ve had my fair share of frozen video screen images with an open mouth mid-sentence. To avoid connection issues, minimize the number of devices connected to your Wi-Fi all at once.
- Social Media platforms
Yes, we dared to mention social media as a means of post-pandemic-proofing your practice. This is not in regards to distributing content, but for actually connecting and communicating with your clients (in the most compliant form possible, of course). Most advisors use social media for potential new clients, and rarely think to connect with their existing client base. Simply ask your clients which social media platform they would prefer to connect on; LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, like ours in those links, will likely be the most professional. However, if your clients choose Facebook or Instagram, take advantage of the opportunity to deepen your relationship outside of the professional setting post-pandemic. Regardless of the social media platform you connect with your existing clients on, it helps you put a face to their name when communicating with them, unlike plain old emails. Clients seeing your professional photos or family photos further humanizes your engagements with them, which can lead to future referrals. Within the lines of your firm’s compliance rules, try communicating with clients using social media messaging. It eventually allows you to ask for introductions to people you “casually noticed” they are connected to on the platform, and it will seem less awkward and unnatural because you’ve made social media platforms a common place to check-in on them and share content occasionally. You can then keep the important, compliant-monitored communications for firm emails, and utilize social media to say hello, wish them happy birthday, congratulate them on accomplishments or to share affinity-oriented articles with them. Pre-pandemic, such a suggestion would not have crossed our minds – but to post-pandemic-proof your practice, it requires creativity to remain relevant to your clients and prospects.
For further details or suggestions on how to set up or implement any of the above technologies, or to learn more about our complimentary ETF Think Tank services for advisors, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would also love to hear any additional tips on software you have used and found helpful recently.
Originally published by ETF Think Tank, 11/24/20
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