Getting financial advice has never been easier

Since Australia’s first COVID-19 lockdown began over a year ago, most businesses have been forced to adapt. The pandemic has not only normalised remote work, but created a new way of working that has changed the way we communicate, connect and create.

This is particularly apparent in industries such as financial advice. As a profession where advisers traditionally spent a lot of time meeting clients face-to-face, the advice industry had to adapt quickly and smartly.

‘Virtual’ quickly became the go-to for meetings, with both clients and their advisers forced to embrace new technologies. While some were slow to adopt, virtual meetings quickly became the norm and research has now shown that many clients and advisers prefer virtual.

For starters virtual is more efficient, especially as clients and advisers become more proficient with the technology required. It’s also much easier for advisers to present graphs and other data by sharing their screen, with no paper printing involved. Then there’s the time saved. No travelling for either party frees up more time, which can be spent on more important things, like discussing the client’s financial matters.


Building the right relationships

Granted, there will always be a place for face-to-face meetings. Despite their benefits, one thing virtual meetings can’t offer is the bond that can be formed by two humans meeting in person.

During your initial meetings with an adviser, it’s likely you will want to meet face-to-face. You’ll want to build a relationship and to know that you can trust them. Conversation often flows more easily when speaking in person; also non-verbal conversation, or body language, is a primary contributor to connecting and establishing trust.

As time goes on and your relationship with your adviser grows, it can be more far more convenient to meet virtually. Perhaps you live far away from your adviser. Or you only need a quick update on a financial matter. Or, to give a recent example, when markets are falling fast like they did in early-2020, you may want to speak to your adviser quickly to get their view. Virtual meetings are perfect for situations like this, as you probably won’t need to wait long to get an appointment.

Virtual meetings have certainly struck a chord with advisers. According to a recent survey, over 80% of advisers that currently use virtual meetings plan to use them permanently in future. This doesn’t mean that advisers will conduct solely virtual meetings; in future, we expect more of a hybrid model, where advisers will work both from home and from the office and meetings are held both face-to-face and virtually, depending on requirements.


Always moving forward

Other advancements in technology have also helped. With face-to-face meetings being difficult over the last year, if not impossible at times, an electronic signature service became invaluable. The investment industry as a whole requires a vast amount of paperwork and electronic signature services have been key in ensuring that, for example, application forms can continue to be processed even if we can’t leave the house.

The advice industry has undergone some significant changes over the past year and only time will tell if these changes are for better or worse. Whatever happens, the way we meet and interact with others in a business capacity has changed and there will be opportunities for those who embrace it. Those who show a willingness to change at a crucial time should only benefit in the long run.

We believe that there are two ways to improve investment outcomes: the first is getting the right financial advice and the second is making the right investments. Should you decide that you need advice, we recommend seeking independent professional advice. To find an adviser in your local area, please visit the FPA website.