What will be different after Covid for your financial planning business?

OK, so we’re all still in lockdown but this time it is very different – the end is in sight. Most conversations are hopeful about this being the final lockdown and that is something no-one felt confident about before. Now that we all see the vaccine rollout gathering pace and assuming there are no major calamities here, we can expect life to return to normal at some stage in 2021.

But what will “back to normal” mean for your business? While of course it will mean meeting your clients face-to-face again, businesses have changed forever. And this is a good thing! Set out below are 5 ways in which your financial planning business can emerge stronger from the Covid era.


Be braver with technology

The most obvious example is that for years we had the ability to hold remote meetings, but these were only really carried out in large, international organisations. We all knew about them and some even speculated about using them one day… and then suddenly we were all using remote meetings every single day. Even though many people thought that clients would never adapt, most clients did, and now embrace the convenience of these meetings.

We see other examples in financial planning businesses quickly leveraging the advantages of cloud computing, team collaboration software and the introduction and acceptance of digital signatures.

Each of these on their own would have been a major project in years gone by, but because you needed to quickly adapt, they became an everyday part of your business within a few short months. Hopefully as further new, clever technology solutions emerge, we’ll all procrastinate a bit less and be brave – maybe we’ll all become a tribe of early adopters?


Be more flexible with your people

I think it will be a minority of financial planning businesses that will close their offices, with everyone working remotely. However we are likely to see a continuing demand for hybrid working conditions, where people are working part-time in the office and part-time at home. This is going to gather further pace as legislation is on the way to support this model too.

What we’ve seen in the last year is that with the proper conditions and commitment of both the employer and employee, remote working can be very effective. Even where employers instinctively like to see their team around them in the office, they will need to be more open than before to remote working playing some role in the working week. At least everyone has “road tested” this now, and has seen what is needed to make it work.

This will never be for everyone – some people can’t wait to get back to the office full-time as their home environments are just not conducive to effective working, or they miss the sociability of the office. The key will be flexibility on everyone’s part – the employer embracing change and the employee demonstrating that they are at least as efficient when working remotely.


Outsource, outsource, outsource

With less people in the office, the questions will arise as to whether you need to retain all skills in-house, or whether part-time roles can be replaced with outsourced solutions. There has been and will continue to be a growing shift towards outsourcing some part-time tasks, rather than incurring the expense of employing someone. Areas that come to mind include financial management / accounting functions, marketing, compliance, HR and technology. Financial planning businesses will consist mainly of a leadership team, planners / advisers and customer support staff including paraplanners in some cases. All other functions will be outsourced, allowing the team to retain a laser-like focus on your customers, with external people delivering your required central support services.


Communicate relentlessly

This is an area in which we’ve seen winners and losers during the pandemic. Some firms have gone quiet, have treaded water and are looking to get out the other side of the current restrictions and get back to the old ways of doing business. Others have recognised their physical distance from clients and have done everything in your power to stay as close to them as possible. Email communication, social media, webinars, zoom meetings and phone calls have been planned and carried out relentlessly. These firms have seen the power of these communications in more engaged and indeed grateful clients, and will continue with this approach into the future.


Think about business continuity

This is the “what if” planning. Before 2020, who had planned for a pandemic hitting? Who even had plans for being unable to access the office for any reason? I suspect very few of us had such plans…

But now we’ve seen the need to be prepared for the unexpected. While business continuity is an important element of ongoing planning in most large businesses, it really doesn’t feature in smaller businesses. Now maybe it should, to a level that makes sense. Get the team thinking about a range of unlikely scenarios and what you would do if they happened – it’s always better to have a plan and a process to implement, as opposed to thinking while under severe pressure. Scenarios might include the loss of the office, the loss of key people, a security breach, a data loss, a PR disaster etc. Think of the unexpected, and have a plan.


2020 probably taught us all more in one year than in many years before it, in terms of our adaptability and our resilience. These are the skills to bring forward with us as we emerge from the Covid era.

Is LinkedIn worth the trouble?

For those looking for the shortened version – the answer is a resounding YES!

In fact LinkedIn is really not optional for financial advisers any more, as the opportunity cost of not using it is simply too great to ignore now. You must have a presence on it and it must be a very strong presence.

Why? Well here are a few reasons.


Your professional profile

Your website tells people about your business and the services that you provide. Your LinkedIn profile on the other hand gives you the opportunity to tell people about you, the businessperson. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your career credentials, your skills and your experience. You also have the opportunity to include recommendations from happy clients. Your LinkedIn profile offers you the opportunity to connect on a personal level with prospective clients.


Give yourself a head start

It’s always great to have something in common with a prospect when you meet them, to get off on the right footing! Maybe you went to the same school, shared a common previous employer, are in the same sports club or have an unusual interest in common. This gives you a conversation topic for those first few minutes as you draw each other out into the conversation. LinkedIn is a rich source of this information and might help you to press the “happy” buttons from the word go…


A valuable research resource for prospects too

We all use Google to check out potential suppliers before we contact them. The same applies to financial advisers. I think it’s safe to assume that almost 100% of prospective clients will carry out some research of you and your business before entrusting their money with you! Your search (Google) results hopefully will list your website and your LinkedIn profile.

If you’re not on LinkedIn, what does this say about you? To many people, it shows a lack of professionalism, not having your finger on the business pulse. Equally damaging is having a very poor presence on LinkedIn. A badly created profile, with a very small number of connections hardly sends out the message that you are the best provider in town to meet the needs of a potential client.


Driving traffic to your website

It’s all well and good having a great website, however you’ve got to ensure that people actually get to visit it and see your content. And this is where LinkedIn plays such an important role. You can share content that is housed on your website out via LinkedIn. And of course if any of your network interact with your content by liking it or sharing it themselves, your content then is highlighted to a whole new network of contacts, leading these people back to your website where they hopefully will learn all about you.


Helping your search engine results

Social media in general and LinkedIn as one of the main platforms now plays a significant role in achieving excellent search engine results. While of course it remains very important to have your website pages set up correctly, with well written content featuring your chosen keywords, that on its own is not enough. Fresh, original content that is endorsed by other people earns a lot of brownie points with Google and helps push your site up the search results. And LinkedIn is one of the most effective places for this to happen for you in a business context – when you share your business related content and your insights, and others then interact with them.


Providing great insights

Another benefit of LinkedIn is the insights that you can get. You can a real sense of whether your content is of interest to people, and more importantly, who is actually finding it interesting. As people, like, comment upon or share your content, you learn who is reading and finding your content of interest, in a way that no other medium (except email marketing) will deliver. Maybe it’s worth your while reaching out to these people and suggesting a coffee?


The benefits of LinkedIn are huge and can’t be ignored by financial advisers. Is it time that you learned how to get the full benefit from it?