Video Conferencing for Advisors: The New Normal

Oct 20, 2015

Normally in my blog posts, I try and emulate presidential primary debates; I give reasoned and thoughtful Videoconferencingviews and do not emphatically insist on a specific point of view. This post is going to be different. If you are not using video conferencing to interact with your clients, you should. The research, which I will take you through, shows that video conferencing (while not suitable for every occasion) should be part of your arsenal.

Once you use it, you get it

My introduction to the nuances of video conferencing was about four years ago. In my line of work, you are on many, many conference phone calls. I was on a call with a woman who was one of our strategic partners, and I am embarrassed to say, I got a bit distracted by e-mail during the call. I glanced up at my screen and saw her looking straight out of the screen, directly at me. It made me jump, but it also made me focus more on the call – and I actually felt closer to the person who had bothered to look into the camera so she could really engage me.

Tip: Use your camera to allow the other person to see you, but do not pressure him or her to turn the camera on in return. Over time, people often do.

Bill Winterberg shares a personal story about his accountant. For nearly 2 ½ years, they never met, even though they were within driving distance. He believes their relationship is more effective because they use a range of remote tools to interact, including e-mail, phone, text messages, and video conferences. Documents are shared using a secure file exchange. The two met for the first time when Bill’s CPA needed a wet ink signature – that meeting lasted for all of 10 minutes!

When to use video conferencing

We  polled 679 advisors in April 2015. One of the questions we asked was: “What is your use of video conferencing software within your business?’”
FinancialAdvisorUseofVideoConferencing

Some of our takeaways from these responses:

  • 70% of advisors are using video conferencing for some purpose with their clients. I would encourage the other 30% to start, and I cover a soft launch approach to this later in the post to get you started.
  • 2% of advisors use it for all client and prospect interactions, and 1% for all client interactions. In a previous blog post, we defined Virtual Advisors as those who do all of their interactions remotely, and this group fits into that model.
  • 55% of advisors use video conferencing with specific clients who prefer to meet online. This is a high figure and ties in with our suggestion that it is all about client preference. Let the client choose how they want to interact with you. You will be surprised to see how many want to use video conferencing.
  • For the 18% of advisors who never use video conferencing and the 12% who have not heard of it, please think about trying it out.

Video conferencing landscape

Now let’s turn to the different video conferencing vendors. Below is a landscape of the video conferencing market, specifically through the lens of advisors.

SoftwareLandscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of our interpretations of this information:

  • There are two general categories: personal meetups (such as FaceTime and Skype) and business-oriented meetings (such as GoToMeeting and WebEx). Some advisors use both categories, depending on the type of interaction.
  • For business-oriented software, GoToMeeting has the largest market share, followed by join.me for smaller advisors and WebEx for larger advisors
  • join.me has carved out a niche as the easiest software to use – no downloads or conference ID numbers to remember – just a URL that is yours to use repeatedly
  • Google Hangouts is surprisingly popular, due to its focus on making it easy for multiple people to join a meeting.

join.me caught our attention, as the simplicity they have brought to the interaction is especially useful to advisors. The last thing you want in a client interaction is to spend the first few minutes talking through the technology of communication method. Making a client feel bad about their technology prowess is not a good way to bond. join.me is so simple that some advisors will be on the phone with their client and during the call will say, “Let’s go to my join.me site and I’ll show you what I’m talking about.” It is that simple.

SEI has set up a strategic partnership with join.me with a good discount. You can enroll here.

How to start video conferencing

If you have not tried video conferencing and want to, here is a checklist to help you get going.

  • Read our white paper and look for characteristics of a video conferencing vendor that appeals to you. Then continue to do your own due diligence.
  • Sign up for a trial subscription with a vendor.
  • Use the software internally in your firm to ensure that you can use it in a way that is seamless.
  • Identify a few clients that you know are technically able, and are open to new things. Try it out.
  • Once you are comfortable with the software, identify who you want to use it with (maybe existing clients) and for what (maybe investment management meetings).
  • Buy the professional version of the software.
  • As you have meetings with your clients, ask them if they would prefer video conferencing.
  • Put the client’s preference in your CRM.

And, you are up and going.

Find out more

In a previous post, I discussed scheduling software for advisors – another way advisors can marry up human interaction with the smart use of technology.  We call them Techno-Advisors – conventional advisors who have embraced technology to give their clients the experience that they want.

You can find out more about video conferencing and other ways to technically communicate with your clients through the white paper John Anderson and I wrote with Bill Winterberg, titled Finding Your Inner Techno-Advisor.

 

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Raef Lee

Raef Lee

Raef Lee is the technology contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as a managing director for the SEI Advisor Network.

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