Technology has permeated everyday life at an unprecedented rate. Today, machines manufacture our products, monitor our health and even teach our children. Its greatest achievement, however, lies in its ability to connect people.
The internet has revolutionized communication and created a medium through which people from opposite corners of the globe can directly and instantaneously communicate with each other. And yet, these developments do not stop there.
Telecommunication has eventually led to another phenomenon: remote work. For a financial advisor seeking a share in the market, remote work may prove to be the key to your success.
Why Should a Financial Consultant Work Remotely?
A virtual financial advisor helps clients achieve their short-term and long term financial objectives, albeit remotely. That means that wherever your location, your client remains a phone call away. Trends indicate a shift towards these virtual consultation spaces as a place for conducting business.
This is indicated in a recent McKinsey report which stipulates that 40 - 45% of customers who changed their wealth management firm chose to work with a virtual financial consultant.
Here’s why remote work is gaining popularity:
Great time saver: Do you dread the long commutes you take just to see your client? What about the 4 hours you spend sitting in traffic only to attend an hour and a half meeting? Now compare that with a virtual meeting in the comfort of your house. All you need is a computer, a steady internet connection and a video conferencing tool. No hassle, no late appearances for you, and most importantly, more time on your hands at the end of the day. That’s what remote work can do for your financial consultancy.
Easier to specialize: A key factor in the success of your consulting business lies in your ability to define and target a niche in the market. And while it is advisable to consider offering your services to a particular niche, say, doctors working towards a retirement plan, for example, limiting your client base to a small geographical area may not yield too many prospective clients. Offering your services online broadens your scope of search beyond your physical location, and enables your potential clients to benefit from services that are well suited to their needs despite the physical limitations.
The COVID Pandemic has created a need for online services as never before. Research indicates that the precedent set during the pandemic is likely to remain in the foreseeable future.
While you would do well to align your practice towards this trend, remember that practicality is everything. That means that your client should be able to easily reach you.
Below is an outline of 3 crucial areas to look into for your online efforts to bear fruit:
Digital Marketing For Your Business
How will your client find you if they don't know you exist? With digital advertising, your brand becomes more visible, which makes it easier for your ideal client to eventually come along.
You can leverage online marketing that uses big data from search engines to figure out your ideal client and help you market your content to the right people straight from the comfort of their homes.
While digital marketing comes in many shapes and forms, here are some irreducible minimums when it comes to marketing your online financial consulting business:
Create Your Own Website
Your website is your virtual office. A business without an office lacks credibility; and so does an online financial consultancy business without a website. A Google Survey revealed that 59% of shoppers do online research before making a purchase.
Be assured that your client will “Google you” before engaging you for your services. Having a website gives your business credibility and tells your customer "I’m not going anywhere."
A good website must have:
Logo and theme — Consider creating a logo and theme for your website. A great logo not only makes your brand distinct and recognizable but also engenders trust in your client.
Location and contacts — Despite migrating your operations online, having a physical address helps create trust in your business. Moreover, your contact makes it easy for your potential client to reach you and book an appointment.
Services offered — Your website should clearly articulate what your business is all about and the services that you offer. The simplicity of language and maximum clarity is especially important here.
Blog Section — This is an increasingly important section of any website (and digital marketing campaign). A blog section allows you to post helpful content (in the form of articles) that is both helpful to a site visitor and relevant to your field. Ensure that you post links to any new blogs on your social media profiles, and thus drive traffic to your website.
Chatbot — A chatbot empowers you to enrich your client’s browsing experience by quickly answering their queries.
Drive Awareness on Social Media
The average human being spends an average of 2 and a half hours of their day on social media alone. That means that with the right message, you can market your financial consulting business to your target audience and get conversions just by posting promotional content on your socials.
Consider the following as you set it up (or if you have one, ensure it has the following):
Name and logo of your business — All social media sites have a profile section where an account holder puts in the name and a photo of themselves. Use this space to put in the name of your consultancy and a logo of your business for easy identification.
Link to your website — Provide a link to your website in both your profile and (preferably) in all your posts. This will make it easier for your client to visit your website.
Post content regularly — Ensure that you post regularly on your socials. However, don't post too many times. Every other business is posting promotional content. That means that posting excessively runs the risk of spamming your potential client.
Remember to vary the type of social media content that you post. Not every post needs to talk about the services you offer! Include a link to a blog on your website instead and give a brief summary of your social media posts. Your social media content doesn’t have to be overtly promotional all the time. Consider posting educational and even funny content once in a while.
Moreover, understand the nature of the platform and its users. Twitter, for example, has an upper limit to the number of words per post, meaning that your content has to be pithy and concise. Instagram, on the other hand, would require more visually stimulating content.
Most importantly, consistency is key. A successful digital marketing strategy ensures that the information on your website (including the very important contacts) remains up-to-date and your socials remain active and alive.
Planning, Scheduling and Hosting Online Meetings
A financial consultant's initial greatest need is to understand the client’s financial goals and objectives, which is a prerequisite to the creation of an ideal, tailor-made financial plan for the customer. To achieve this, meet with your client and have an extensive discussion on their financial position and future objectives.
An ideal online-based financial consultancy business model does not take away this need, but should in turn facilitate its fulfilment.
For a financial consultant seeking to implement a system of smoothly run, properly scheduled online meetings, several factors have to be taken into consideration, which include:
Platform — Aside from firmware, online meetings require an interface through which the consultant connects with the client. Moreover, both parties need to have a link to the meeting room to enable them to log into and attend the meeting,
Scheduling — Meeting scheduling helps to ensure that both you and your client attend your planned meeting promptly.
Duration — Just like physical meetings, online meeting time needs to be defined to ensure effectiveness during the meeting.
A variety of software solutions have been developed to cater to these needs. These include Zoom and Google Meet for your video conferencing needs, and Calendly specifically designed for your booking and scheduling.
MeetFox: The All-In-One Solution
The ideal pick, however, caters to all your needs at once. MeetFox is a free and easy solution that has several features designed to fit almost any type of online business, including your financial consultancy:
Booking link — The software’s capabilities allow you to embed the link into your website and social media platforms, enabling your client to book a meeting with you from multiple virtual access points.
Scheduling tool — MeetFox integrates with your Google Calendar and allows you to select your timings for meetings. Once the client clicks on the booking link, they can then view your availability in real-time and book accordingly.
Automatic time zones — when scheduling meetings, MeetFox automatically adjusts meeting timings to match local time zones, allowing international clients the ease and convenience when booking with you.
MeetFox gives you the platform you need to conduct your meetings. You don't need any downloads to use it. All you have to do is log into the website.
For a financial advisor, hosting client meetings is an essential part of the job. And the more effective the meeting, the better for the client and the business’s reputation. Ensure that you have your agenda and timings set and communicated to the client before the online meeting starts. Have clear action points outlined by the end of the meeting.
Other Essential Tools for a Virtual Financial Advisor
While meeting your client is an integral part of your mandate as a financial advisor, it’s only the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship for both of you. As you build your client base you will eventually accumulate an ever-increasing portfolio of online documents and passwords.
This will create the need for an ‘online office management system’ aka. a robust office management software wherein crucial data is securely stored and retrieved when needed. Some essential tools a financial advisor may need include:
Some essential tools a financial advisor may need include:
Redtail CRM Software — Client interactions are arguably the most important facet of your business as it is directly linked to customer satisfaction. Having a Client Relationship Management (CRM) software helps you track leads and ensures smooth interaction between you and your client; leaving you stress-free and your client happy. Other popular CRM software includes Salesforce and Wealthbox.
DocuSign — This electronic tool offers both the financial advisor and the client a way to effect electronic agreements. Through features such as the eSignature, a client can sign off on crucial documents from a different device. Similar tools in this category include PandaDoc and signNow.
1Password — Remote work often creates the need to have multiple user accounts on different platforms, both for you and your client. Password managers such as 1Password enable you to generate and store multiple passwords to sensitive accounts in a secure and encrypted manner.
Cloud Storage — Most importantly, take measures to ensure that your data is not only safe but also easily accessible. Cloud storage allows you to access business data from remote locations. In the unfortunate event that your computer crashes, you can still retrieve data from the cloud, even from a new device.
An essential ingredient to remote working, especially for long term relationships is remaining relevant and visible. A financial advisor working remotely must ensure constant communication with the client (without spamming). This is effected through maintaining an active and engaging social media presence.
Moreover, prove your mettle by providing high-value information to both your client and prospects by blogging. Writing blogs ensures covertly markets you as a professional in your field and adds to your credibility. Lastly, communication of relevant financial information through email with your existing client is a great way to keep them engaged and aware of your constant presence. Indeed, effective and remote work can be mutually inclusive, even for a financial advisor.