By Paresh Shah
Every American knows how critical video meeting platforms like Zoom have been holding our families and workplaces together in the past year.
For many financial advisors, learning how to use such programs was the push they needed to catch up with a key technological trend. Carry that momentum forward into 2021 by exploring and adopting nine key technological and digital trends into your firm.
Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems allow advisors to store client data in a centralized location that all employees can access. This includes appointment records, important paperwork and all manner of notes for each individual client. Aside from making it easier to keep track of clients and their preferences, CRMs can also help advisors find cross-sell opportunities they may have missed before.
Another key feature of CRMs is their workflow functions. Large organizations already used these before COVID-19 to pass tasks between office locations and teams. Smaller organizations can benefit too, by using workflow functionality to coordinate remote team members.
Cloud Storage Email Integration
Email-integrated cloud storage system, such as Google Drive or OneDrive, allow teams to share files digitally. Having such systems in place made the transition to a remote, COVID-safe workspace easier for my team, and it will benefit advisors who hired employees in different states during the pandemic.
Associating a cloud storage system with email addresses, and utilizing security methods like two-factor authentication, provides security for digitally shared client documents. Still, advisors should check with their compliance department before diving in to ensure they are protecting clients’ privacy.
Save time and money by automating scheduling and allowing clients to set their own meetings. Apps like Schedule Once, my software of choice, let clients set up Zoom meetings that automatically populate an advisor’s email calendar, instead of having to email or call to set appointments manually. This has really helped productivity.
Web-Based Meeting Programs
Whether Zoom, GoToMeeting, Webex or any of the other video conferencing apps out there, clients have become used to virtual meetings because of COVID-19. Many clients will be happy to see their advisors in person once all parties have been vaccinated, but advisors should retain their subscriptions to these platforms for clients who will prefer to continue meeting virtually in a post-COVID world.
The same programs used to meet virtually with clients one-on-one can also be used to host webinars and other educational presentations. This presentation format allows for bigger audiences, which boost an advisor’s ability to prospect and generate referrals.
At the same time, it cuts down on typical presentation costs, since advisors no longer have to pay for event space or food. Advisors should make sure they have a good web camera, lighting and internet speed before hosting virtual webinars.
Hackers are always becoming more prolific and more proficient, and advisors need to catch up. Password managers can securely generate, store and provide passwords to dozens or hundreds of online accounts. This removes the need to depend on one or two go-to passwords. They also help prevent frequent resets when passwords are forgotten.
Reading is good for the brain, but the simple fact of the matter is that many people have trouble focusing on a book for hours at a time. Audiobooks are more accessible and can be better consumed in smaller doses – on public transit, at the gym, on break, etc. Utilizing audiobooks and their multitasking-friendly format can help advisors learn more and learn faster.
Dictation And Transcription Software
Voice-to-text dictation and transcription services help with notetaking and preserving ideas on the go. They can also help ensure adherence to compliance and best-interest regulations. As with to the cloud storage options, advisors should run these programs by their compliance departments before use.
VOIP phone systems have been used by large organizations for years, but smaller teams can still benefit. These systems come with an app that can send work calls to a personal cell phone as long as Wi-Fi is available. These systems do not forward calls – both the cell phone and work landline will ring simultaneously. While that takes getting used to, the ability to answer work calls outside of the office improves productivity and efficiency for all members of the team.
The world will never go back to the pre-COVID normal – virtual meetings, digitalization and remote work are here to stay. The best way for advisors to navigate the new normal is to ensure they have the technology tools they need to thrive.
About The Author
Paresh Shah has been a wealth strategist for 17 years, specializing in Pension & Profit-Sharing Plans, Asset Protection, Estate Planning and Business Succession. He cohosts the talk show “Your Money - Your Taxes” on the South Asian American channel ITV Gold. Paresh is a member of the American Association of Life Underwriters (AALU) and the Million Dollar Round Table with 2 Top of the Table and 8 Court of the Table qualification. In his birth country of India, he and his wife support schools for Deaf, mute and blind children. In the US, Paresh supports charities that provide jobs for autistic adults.
Paresh resides in Hicksville, NY with his wife Shimul. Their child, Shamik, studies at Hunters College, NYC. Registered Representative of Lion Street Financial and Investment Advisor Representative of Csenge Advisory Group.