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Boost Engagement: Enhance Virtual Financial Planning Meetings in 7 Ways

Boost Engagement: Enhance Virtual Financial Planning Meetings in 7 Ways

Over-the-shoulder shot of Team Member having a virtual meeting with 9 team members using a laptop
Over-the-shoulder shot of Team Member having a virtual meeting with 9 team members using a laptop

A successful financial planning process can be broken down into three key elements; the quality of advice, how the advice is given, and the environment where the advisor and client meet.

Historically, the focus tends to be on the first two elements. It’s only been in recent years that the impact of the meeting environment on financial planning outcomes has been studied.

In recent years, with the improvements in video conferencing tools, and the prevalence of remote working capabilities, many advisors have shifted to conducting client meetings online.

Like any technological advancement, the rise of virtual meetings presents negative and positive impacts towards the success of the financial planning process.

Benefits of Virtual Client Meetings

Virtual client meetings offer a host of benefits that enhance the efficiency, flexibility, and accessibility of financial advisory services. By embracing technology and leveraging virtual platforms, advisors can broaden their reach, provide convenient solutions, promote plan adherence, and simplify meeting coordination.

 

  • Broader Reach and Audience – Virtual client meetings offer a broader audience reach without geographical limits. Advisors connect with clients globally, saving time and reducing carbon emissions. Virtual platforms accommodate busy schedules, offering flexible meeting times and formats, empowering advisors to efficiently cater to clients’ needs, whether for quick check-ins or comprehensive financial planning sessions.

 

  • Convenience in Handling Issues – Virtual client meetings provide a convenient platform for addressing issues and concerns in real time. Clients can seek advice or clarification on financial matters from the comfort of their homes or offices, eliminating the need for in-person appointments that may require significant travel time and coordination. Moreover, virtual meetings enable advisors to share documents, presentations, or screens instantly, facilitating collaborative problem-solving and decision-making. 

 

  • Better Plan Adherence – Virtual client meetings contribute to better plan adherence and accountability among clients. With the convenience of scheduling and attending meetings remotely, clients are more likely to commit to their financial goals and follow through with the recommended strategies discussed during the sessions. By regularly connecting with clients through virtual meetings, advisors can track progress, foster accountability and empower clients to stay on track with their financial plans, ultimately leading to better outcomes and increased satisfaction.

 

  • Easier Meeting Coordination – Gone are the days of endless back-and-forth emails or phone calls to schedule meetings. Virtual client meetings streamline the meeting coordination process, making it easier for advisors and clients to find mutually convenient times to connect. With the availability of online scheduling tools and calendar integrations, advisors can offer clients the flexibility to book appointments directly based on their availability.

Challenges of Virtual Client Meetings

While technology offers convenience and flexibility, it also presents unique challenges that hinder effective communication and relationship-building. Let’s delve into some of the key hurdles advisors face in virtual client meetings.

  • Lack of Control over Meeting Environment – One significant challenge advisors encounter is the limited control they have over the meeting environment. Unlike in-person meetings where advisors can ensure a professional setting, virtual meetings grant clients the freedom to choose their surroundings. This can lead to distractions or less-than-optimal conditions, potentially affecting the meeting’s productivity and focus.
  • Diminished Social Presence – In virtual settings, the absence of physical presence diminishes social cues and non-verbal communication, making it challenging to gauge participants’ reactions and engagement. This lack of social presence can impede rapport-building and hinder the natural flow of conversation.
  • Zoom Fatigue and Energy Drain – The pervasiveness of virtual meetings has led to the phenomenon known as “Zoom fatigue,” where prolonged screen time and constant video conferencing drain participants’ energy and focus. This fatigue can detract from clients’ ability to engage in discussions and absorb information fully.
  • Challenges in Building Trust and Connection – Establishing trust and connection with clients is crucial for successful advisory relationships, yet virtual meetings pose challenges in fostering these essential elements. Without face-to-face interactions, building rapport and conveying empathy can be more challenging for advisors.

7 Tips for Enhancing Financial Advisor and Client Interactions Online

 

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, virtual client meetings will undoubtedly remain a valuable tool for advisors seeking to deliver exceptional service and support to their clients, regardless of distance or location.

 

Here are 7 ways to enhance advisor and client experience in virtual meetings:

1) Investing in good lighting – Investing in good lighting can significantly enhance the quality of virtual meetings. Adequate lighting improves visibility, making participants’ facial expressions and gestures more discernible, and fostering better communication and connection. It also creates a professional and inviting atmosphere, boosting engagement and leaving a positive impression on clients. By ensuring optimal lighting conditions, advisors can elevate the overall experience and effectiveness of virtual interaction.

2) Ensuring good sound quality – Clear audio minimises disruptions and ensures participants can hear and understand each other effectively, facilitating smoother communication and collaboration. Investing in quality microphones and minimising background noise can significantly improve the overall meeting experience, allowing for clearer discussions and fostering better engagement between financial advisors and clients.

3) Optimising camera placement and selection – Camera placement in virtual meetings is crucial as it offers the client’s perspective, impacting their perception. Advisors must envision themselves from the client’s viewpoint, considering height and distance for comfort. Optimal placement ensures proper framing, enhancing visual clarity and maintaining eye contact. High-quality cameras capture details accurately, fostering better communication. Investing in good cameras and strategic placement elevates meeting quality, enhancing engagement and productivity.

4) Setting up a virtual office –  A virtual office can significantly enhance virtual meetings by providing a professional and organised backdrop. A well-designed virtual workspace conveys credibility and professionalism, fostering a positive impression on clients. It also creates a conducive environment for focused discussions and collaborative work. By investing in a virtual office setup, advisors can elevate the overall experience of virtual meetings and enhance client engagement.

5) Selecting a virtual background – Virtual backgrounds offer versatility by allowing users to customise their meeting environment. They provide privacy and can hide distractions. However, they may appear artificial or glitchy, disrupting the meeting’s professional tone. Additionally, complex backgrounds may strain bandwidth and cause technical issues. While virtual backgrounds offer flexibility, careful consideration is needed to ensure they enhance rather than detract from the meeting experience.

6) Structuring the meeting – The structure of the meeting itself plays a pivotal role in ensuring effectiveness and minimising the impact of Zoom fatigue. Advisors can optimise their virtual sessions by carefully considering meeting length, balancing ‘face time,’ and eliminating distractions.

Firstly, adhering to shorter meeting durations, ideally 90 minutes or less, helps combat fatigue and ensures focused discussions. This may require covering fewer topics per session but guarantees that each subject receives adequate attention.

Secondly, maintaining a balanced interaction between video-on and video-off moments alleviates eye contact exhaustion and promotes comfortable engagement between participants. 

Lastly, disabling the self-view function eliminates distractions caused by one’s image onscreen, enhancing focus on meeting content and encouraging active participation. By implementing these strategies, advisors can maximise the effectiveness of virtual client meetings and ensure meaningful interactions with their clients.

7) Sharing guidelines with clients –  Advisors can provide guidelines or recommendations for creating an ideal meeting environment. Encouraging clients to choose quiet, well-lit spaces free from interruptions can help maintain a conducive atmosphere for meaningful discussions. Sharing tips on improving meeting quality, pre-call instructions, and post-call materials ensures clients feel well-supported and confident in the relationship. 

In recent years, perceptions of virtual meetings have shifted, with some advisors embracing video conferencing while others remain hesitant. While a few may never fully replace in-person interactions, those open to investing time in optimising their virtual meeting setup can unlock significant benefits.

Viewing virtual meetings not as a compromise, but as an investment, allows advisors to access a wider client base, develop specialised expertise, and serve clients more efficiently. Improving the virtual meeting experience becomes essential for maximising the returns on this investment, enabling advisors to leverage the full potential of remote communication.

About the Author
Arantxa Solis
Senior Communications Specialist
Senior Communications Specialist
Arantxa “Ran” Solis is VBP’s Senior Communications Specialist. She excels in developing communication plans for both internal and external initiatives, focusing on acquisition, engagement, and retention strategies. Ran adeptly handles crisis communications, content creation, and media relations, ensuring consistent branding and messaging. Her strategic approach enhances VBP’s presence and stakeholder connections.

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