Is the physical office a thing of the past? The office of the future for financial advisors
The new normal for financial advisors
As we continue to experience a new lifestyle during the pandemic, I wonder about a few things regarding the future. Will the physical office become less important? Will financial advisors be using a virtual business model in their Business Plan? Will the use of Zoom continue to boom?
While coaching a finance executive with a major mutual fund company, he remarked that one of their Manhattan office buildings was sitting virtually empty and that business operations were continuing very smoothly. He added that the entire company is now rethinking the office of the future.
For financial advisors, what is the ‘new normal’ going to look like moving forward? Are home offices the way to go? The past few months have made companies and their employees look at how and where we work from a whole new perspective, and it doesn’t look like many people are wanting to revert back to how things were, at least not completely.
But what does a financial advisor do in this situation? For decades advisors have undertaken their early morning commute with dedication, dressed in a smart suit and immaculate hair. They exude charisma, creating an atmosphere to meet client expectations.
Now they can roll out of bed, make themselves look pixelated-camera presentable from mid chest upwards (a headset can work wonders at hiding that bed-head hair), sit at their makeshift home office desk, and then make the most important decision of the day – which of the zoom office backgrounds should they use? Somewhere exotic, or a bright, modern office with cutting edge architecture?
Financial advisors and client engagement
On a more serious note, how does losing that physical interaction affect the relationship between financial advisors and their clients? Is it more difficult to engage? Or does it open up new opportunities and broaden the client base? Financial advisors no longer need to hope that they appear in the results when potential clients are searching to find “a financial advisor near me.” They no longer need to take appointments that accommodate commutes and lunch breaks, have clients delayed because they were stuck in traffic, or couldn’t find parking.
As a seasoned career coach (since 2004), I have my own opinions regarding what is possible for financial advisors regarding client engagement and business success. Engagement is necessary and it can be done not only through in person communication, but also via video.
Advisors working from home with kids
How does home working impact on those with children? For some, they have been able to cut down on child care costs, whilst for others, working from home with kids has caused challenges, and an entertaining office background during video calls! However, many have been appreciating the extra time they have at home with their families and loved ones, making the most of being able to prepare and enjoy meals, and spend more productive time with their children. Work days are shorter thanks to the lack of commute, resulting in employees having more energy, concentration and job satisfaction during the working day, and being free to enjoy their extended personal and leisure time.
Advisors home alone working
For those living alone, things can become a little solitary with home working, even as a financial advisor who at least gets to talk to clients regularly, even if not in person. It is important to stay in contact with colleagues, keep up the coffee break chats and corridor gossip. If you are a self-employed financial advisor, this could be more difficult, but there has been a huge surge in the number of webinars and online groups available for networking and interacting with others.
Advisors considering going independent
Working from home is a great way for advisors to get moving on going independent from wirehouses and broker dealers. Those dreaming of not having someone lurking and looking over their shoulder could benefit from the ability to work from home while getting their independent practices set up.
Marketing and working from home
It really doesn’t matter if you’re working from a physical office or working from a home office when it comes to marketing your financial planning business. Prospective clients don’t know the difference. You could be marketing your business from the beach in Hawaii for all clients know. And training clients to expect more video meetings can only help you live like a beach bum.
Financial impact of working from home
Financial advisors have probably though about the financial impact of a home office versus the physical office. Working from home removes the associated costs of providing an office environment for employees, and even if they cover the expenses of setting up a home office desk space with the best ergonomic chair on the market, they are still likely to make savings.
Home office tax deductions, or the “working from home tax” might also help out here. For employees, they will lose less of their income on commuting and vehicle maintenance costs, in addition to lunch and coffee expenses if they are usually purchased daily from retail outlets. Could it also be the end of the need for those expensive suits and footwear?
The role of the physical office moving forward is definitely debatable, not just for financial advisors. The gains of working from home in terms of personal time and available income definitely support a move away from the physical office, but the lack of physical interaction could prove detrimental to client relationships, and for some the only interaction they have with others is in the work place. However, the opportunity to broaden client bases should not be overlooked.
If you would like to learn more about how to become a virtual financial advisor, taking advantage of technology such as Zoom, Schedule Once, and other options, please contact me.