Featured in Money Marketing.

I write this as England rides out its second lockdown. It feels different this time. I won’t go into the sociology or politics of why, but just from speaking to advisers and clients, it really does have a different vibe this time around.

In the first lockdown, there was a lot of furlough and hibernation, and attitudes of “Let’s sit this out and see how it goes”. This time, I think we’ve all realised the new normal is here to stay in some way or another.

So, what does this mean for financial planning?

We know that clients are more worried than ever about their finances and, therefore, need more support than ever. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can improve our service as paraplanners.

A major part of this is communication and how we can get more from a client meeting in a safe environment. With more of us going to be stuck in the house for longer, now is the time to really embrace tech in a way you never have before.

I recently launched a virtual paraplanner service, where the paraplanner can attend a client-adviser meeting through their favoured video conferencing software. This is something I recommend for in-house and outsourced paraplanners alike. Indeed, it is helpful for all three parties involved.

From the client’s perspective, they are provided with the confidence that you have really understood what they want and how they can achieve it, plus they can take comfort in what a forward thinking, tech-savvy firm they are dealing with.

Meanwhile, the adviser is pleased they don’t have to provide meeting notes and field questions about what they meant by “plan to sell Sarah’s Dream in five years’ time”, where they had omitted the fact it was the name of a boat and not a way for the husband to hurt his wife in the future.

And for paraplaners? Well, just imagine the benefits of dealing with the client in real time. Instead of all the to-ing and fro-ing of calling, and missing them and them calling back at 6pm when you are long logged off, you’ve got them where you want them, to ask all of the questions you need.

This helps achieve a deep insight into their thought process, objectives and needs, which makes for a compliant and personal file, and robust research and report process.

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