This is Buzz Lightyear’s famous quote as he soars across the room cheered on by his fellow friends/toys. It also describes how I view our firm as we continue to attract clients beyond Northern Virginia. While working on the business, we discovered that over 30 percent of our clients live outside the metro area of Virginia, Maryland, and DC. This was a surprise even though most communications the past ten months have been virtual regardless of where clients live. Some relationships begin here before clients move and a growing number of new relationships are beginning all over the United States.
I believe working remotely with a financial professional will continue to accelerate in the years to come, here’s why:
- It’s tough to talk about money and more difficult to share these feelings with someone you trust. If you are currently disappointed with your approach to planning or financial decision making, you may confide with a friend who may offer assistance. “Would you like an introduction to my advisor or financial planner?” From what we’ve observed, getting an introduction from someone you trust matters much more than geography when choosing to work with our firm. This is all centered around trust, either it’s there or isn’t. Discussing your financials and priorities with someone who comes recommended to you is easier than finding someone on your own. What better way to connect with an advisor then asking a friend who they work with and trust? That financial professional doesn’t need to be in the same area code to be helpful to you. Technology and video conferencing have made connecting easier regardless of location. Limiting your search of financial advisors to a certain zip code may not generate the results you seek. Shortening the pathway in making a positive connection with a financial planner is possible via friends and family. Find someone who you truly connect with and start a conversation regardless of where they live.
- Time matters, even during a pandemic when working from home. In the past, you may have traveled to your advisor’s office and then settled into a conference room. You may have taken the same approach when visiting your physician or accountant. Today, initial and ongoing discovery and review meetings with your financial planner may take place remotely via video conferencing. This saves you valuable commuting time just as telemedicine continues to evolve and accountants adopt technology to serve their client’s tax needs remotely. This will not entirely replace face to face meetings, but this form of engagement will continue long after the vaccine has been distributed to the general public. We have all become acclimated to being productive from home, both personally and professionally. Redirecting time from commuting to another more enjoyable use is now possible.
- More meetings, shorter in duration will be the norm moving forward. We realized years ago it simply wasn’t possible to cover a year’s worth of financial updates in the span of 45 minutes to an hour with a client. We developed a repeatable planning process that splits the year in half covering different planning themes at different times. Video conferencing, email follow up, and other check in calls leads to higher client engagement. Adding an online calendar so clients may schedule a brief call or Zoom when it’s convenient removes the unnecessary back and forth of emails. Connecting periodically with purpose regardless of location develops ongoing dialogue making it easier to pick up where you left off. This leads to a more valuable planning experience.
- Remote financial delivery has been gaining traction slowly, the pandemic accelerated its arrival and acceptance by clients. Some clients won’t accept working remotely and that’s ok. There are plenty of “in person” advisors available all over the map. Overtime though, advisors who adopt smart growth practices will use technology to help their clients get the most out of the services they offer. Those “old school” advisors who require in person meetings at their office and don’t adapt may find it difficult to grow and stay relevant.
- You don’t need to be uber wealthy to have a relationship with a financial planner when geography doesn’t matter. The ease of access now allows more families and professionals to be served by planners then ever before. Having more choices on who to partner with as you build your family’s wealth overtime means you work with exactly the right person. This also requires financial professionals to bring their A game as they continue to learn and grow in serving others alongside investing in helpful technology to make it happen.
If you are approaching a life event such as a milestone birthday, changing employers, sending kids to college, preparing to repurpose your time, or caring for an aging parent you may find our ideas and approach helpful. We welcome the opportunity to chat with you and see if we may be a great fit together.