Virtual Financial Advisor Tools for the New Normal
You’ll new need tools in your virtual toolbox to thrive in the new normal.
As more and more financial advisors begin to work from home, virtual project management tools and software have improved dramatically. Many years ago, virtual conferencing calls were only used when office workers had to call in sick. Today, many financial planning and wealth management companies work entirely virtually.
As a Financial Advisor Coach since 2004 and I’ve been virtual myself this entire time, I’ve been cognizant of the tools that are available to work virtually. Since tools for virtual work have improved dramatically, you can easily make your living as a financial advisor almost entirely online today.
Although finance professionals may not meet physically with your clients, there are many technology-based products to help you accomplish almost every workflow process. From meetings with your clients to the sharing of important documents, it can all be done virtually.
Today’s marketplace is mainly global. This means that you can connect to and work with people who live in entirely different continents and time zones. You aren’t restricted by geography. And it’s virtual tools that help bridge the physical gap.
Up until now, you may have been hesitant to use some tools and software as part of your work as a financial advisor. Likely, you may have thought that the use of technology was costly or hard to set up.
In reality, virtual technologies can increase productivity and efficiency. And if you want your financial advisory firm to thrive in the post-COVID world, you’re going to have to adapt. To learn more, read below.
Why Should Financial Advisors Work Virtually?
You should work virtually because the virtual workspace will become standard in the new normal world.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing numbers of people have been saying goodbye to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. And now, the pandemic gave the work-from-home job force a big push.
Thanks to ever-evolving and ever-growing technologies, you can perform almost every aspect of your job virtually. It’s no longer necessary to set yourself up in an office and have your secretary buzz-in clients.
You’ll find that if you work independently and aren’t handling a team, you might even be more productive when working virtually. Aside from that, there are many other benefits to working virtually, which we’ll touch on in just a bit.
What Are the Benefits of Working Virtually?
1. Your Office Can Be Any Kind
When you think of an office, you probably think of a desk with your laptop and a standard chair. However, you aren’t limited to the traditional office set up when you work virtually.
You can set up your office however you like. Work from your kitchen counter if you want to. Or if you have a balcony with a beautiful view, you can get your workstation set up there, as well.
2. Your Office Can Be Anywhere
If you’re working virtually, chances are you’ll be working from home. But that doesn’t mean you have to work from home.
You can work from any space that fits your preference. You can work at the local cafe or even in the park. If you like traveling, you can work from any part of the world, provided you have internet access.
If you aren’t the adventurous type, working from your home office works just fine, too.
3. You’ll Save Money
Once you commit to working virtually, you’ll see an immediate difference in your bank account. You won’t have to bear the costs of commuting and spending on lunch. Likewise, you won’t have to worry about spending on professional attire if that’s not your style.
4. Your Schedule Can Be Your Own
If you aren’t renting office space and are instead working virtually, you can set your own schedule. Of course, there will be set appointments with clients that you can’t miss. But, you now have more flexibility.
If you’re working from home and have some documents to prepare, you can work at your own pace. You can relax in the morning and get started only after lunch. If you’re a night owl, you can get started in the evening and work until the morning’s wee hours.
5. You’ll Learn More
When you work virtually, you’ll be forced to learn new sets of skills. For example, you’ll notice that you’ll be brushing up on your writing skills since you’ll be sending many more emails.
Likely, you’ll also become more acquainted with the use of technology. And since the world is shifting to become more tech-based, additional technological knowledge can’t hurt.
6. You Can Reach More People
As a virtual financial advisor, you’re always on the lookout for potential clients. And one of the best ways to attract leads is by hosting webinars.
If you host physical seminars, you’ll most likely have to pay rent for the venue you’ll be using, and your audience will be limited by the people who can make it physically to the venue.
When you host virtual webinars, however, you remove many limitations.
Your audience won’t be limited by geography. People from across the globe can attend. Additionally, your audience won’t be limited by the number of seats available. After all, most video conferencing software can host up to thousands of people.
7. You Can Keep in Touch More Easily
If you’re afraid that you’ll become a shut-in if you work virtually, it’s time to ease your mind. There’s a vast range of communication tools for financial advisors who work virtually. Whether you want to reach a client quickly or connect with an old friend of yours, communication tools today make connecting a breeze.
8. You Can Keep in Touch More Effectively
You won’t only be able to keep in touch more easily. You’ll also be able to stay in touch more effectively.
When you’re in the same room as a client, the conversation is on the spot. Whatever you say can’t be taken back, and you won’t have much time to think about your responses.
However, when you’re composing messages online, you get more time to refine your thoughts and responses. Additionally, you can proofread your responses to make sure that your language is clear and concise.
If you find that you’re better at face-to-face discussions than written communication, you can always connect virtually via video conferencing tools.
9. You Can Stay More Focused
Many people believe that it’s easier to get distracted when you work virtually. In some cases, that’s true. But if you set up a steady routine and a private workspace, you’ll find that you can become even more focused than if you were working physically.
You can be more focused when working virtually because you have more control over your situation. If you work in your office, you might have potential clients coming in to inquire at random times throughout the day. However, when working virtually, you can just put all your devices to airplane mode and have some peace.
What Are the Types of Virtual Collaboration?
When people think of virtual collaboration, they believe that it means there are no face-to-face meetings at all. This isn’t true. Even when working virtually, you can come face-to-face with clients via video conferencing software. And if you need physical interaction, you can always shoot your client an email asking whether they’d like to meet up.
There are many types of virtual collaboration in this day and age. As a financial advisor, you may choose one type of collaboration or mix-and-match as your needs change.
The three types of virtual collaboration are:
This type of collaboration used text and data to work on projects. It refers to communicating with your clients via text messaging, email, instant messaging, etc.
2. Asynchronous Collaboration
This allows you to react to and collaborate with your clients, even when your responses can’t be instantaneous. An example would be a document in Google Docs or a spreadsheet in Google Sheets that you shared with a client. You can see the edits made by your client and any new information added. And you both won’t have to be online at the same time.
3. Synchronous Collaboration
This type of collaboration mimics real-life interactions most accurately. It allows you to communicate with clients in real-time. You can collaborate synchronously through video calls or audio-only calls. It’s excellent for essential conversations that require real-time feedback and instant answers.
Tips for Working Virtually
The idea of setting your own hours and working at home sounds like a dream. And indeed, it does have its benefits, as we talked about earlier. However, it does come with a few drawbacks. To help you maximize the pros and minimize the cons, we’ve listed a few tips that’ll help you adjust to working as a virtual financial advisor.
1. Stick to a Schedule
Everybody who’s ever worked from home will have to deal with family members and friends who think that working from home doesn’t really mean working. Now, it’s up to you to set working hours, stick to them, and actually do work during those hours. Don’t let anyone else dissuade you from the fact that you’re employed.
Working virtually comes with distractions that can waste precious time and put you behind on projects. You’ll be faced with personal distractions that tend to blend with your work life.
Family members might think that you can help them with tasks during the workday just because you’re working virtually. They might even ask you to chat on the phone for an hour. It’s important that you set boundaries and stand by those boundaries.
So, it’s important to set working hours and keep them sacred. It doesn’t matter if you want to work from nine to five or from noon to eight in the evening. What matters is that you set hours and make sure those hours are only for work.
Likewise, you shouldn’t do work outside of the hours that you set. Keep your rest hours sacred, as well. This helps you find a good balance between work and play.
2. Beware of Workaholic Tendencies
Flexibility and efficiency are a couple of the top reasons people want to work virtually, along with shorter hours. Since after all, you can probably get more done in less time when working virtually.
But, too much flexibility can be disastrous. When your office is just a few steps away from your bed, it’s hard to close the door and pretend that office hours are over. Many virtual workers find themselves working more hours than they would have if they didn’t work virtually.
You might find yourself tempted to work long hours into the evening and even working on the weekends. You must draw the line between work and personal life. Sometimes, you might have to work a few extra hours. However, it’s best to make time for yourself to relax.
3. Expect Initial Expenses
As mentioned earlier, you’ll be saving more money in the long run, since you won’t be spending on your daily commute and other miscellaneous expenses. However, you’ll most likely be faced with a long list of initial costs.
These expenses may include the costs of setting up your home office, the price of a new laptop, a printer, web hosting, software, and more.
So, it’s smart to set aside a chunk of money that you’ll be spending for your initial start-up costs.
Top 10 Tools for Virtual Financial Advisors
With so many people social distancing due to COVID-19, Zoom Meetings have risen to popularity and has become the top choice for video conferencing.
With Zoom, you can make video calls while working virtually. You can use zoom for talking to clients or family members, and you can also use zoom for hosting your own webinars.
The app has undoubtedly caught on in the past few months. A representative of Zoom mentioned that in December of 2019, Zoom saw an average of 10 million daily meeting participants. In March of 2020, that number ballooned to 200 million.
With such popularity, the Zoom team has been adding features left and right to make video conferencing even more convenient.
Zoom is one of the best, if not the best, video calling applications. However, it might take some time for new users to acquaint themselves with Zoom’s robust features. Overall, Zoom Meetings should be your go-to choice for work-related meetings, thanks to its reliability and stability.
Dropbox is a pioneer among syncing and cloud storage services. It offers synced desktop folders that you can access from anywhere.
Although Dropbox’s services are pricier than its competitors, unique tools such as Dropbox’s Paper, Showcase, and HelloSign truly distinguish Dropbox.
Overall, Dropbox is an excellent choice for online storage. This is especially true for those who don’t want to put all their data into the hands of tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Dropbox is continuously adding new services and features. Recently announced is Dropbox’s password management service called Dropbox Passwords. Additionally, Dropbox scheduled for release the PIN-protected Dropbox Vault and HelloSign digital signatures software.
There is the Family Plan with discounted pricing for users who are part of Dropbox’s beta program.
3. Google Docs
For a long time, Google Docs was nothing more than a free web-based version of traditional office suites like Microsoft Office. Compared to Microsoft Word, Google docs offered a smaller set of features. But they’ve always provided the advantage of allowing you to access your documents from any internet-connected device.
A substantial update to Google Docs in 2016 helped propel the software into something that works even better than Microsoft Word. Nowadays, Google Docs integrated seamlessly with Google’s other services. The result is a fast and easy-to-use word processing service that’s great for productivity.
DocuSign is a cloud-based electronic signature software used across organizations and industries. As a financial advisor, you’ll find DocuSign useful as well. You can use DocuSign to have your clients sign various documents, such as business contracts and agreements.
All you have to do is upload a document, email it to your client, and specify the order in which your client should sign. You can use tags to indicate where on the page you want your client to sign the document.
DocuSign’s dashboard shows the status of all the documents you’ve sent for signing. You can see which stage the document has reached in the signing process and send reminders for unsigned documents.
You can download DocuSign to iOS, Android, and Windows devices. It’s available on a monthly subscription basis that includes DocuSign’s support community and an online knowledge base.
With DocuSign, you can conveniently have your clients sign documents from any device, anywhere in the world. Best of all, the signatures are legally binding.
Zapier is a service you can use to connect apps to automate different tasks. You can automate mundane tasks and free up time that you can spend doing more important things.
With Zapier, you integrate and connect your apps then tell Zapier what you want your apps to do. Zapier takes care of “talking” to the connected apps, so you won’t have to worry about coding or writing a script or program.
You can think of Zapier as a way to build workflows to help you finish simple tasks automatically.
Let’s assume you use Trello for project management and Google Calendar to plan your schedule. Zapier can link both and use information from one app to take action in the other.
So, you might have Zapier create a Google Calendar event for when a Trello Task is due. Conversely, you might have Zapier create a Trello task to remind you about a meeting on your Google Calendar.
There are many tasks you can automate by having Zapier connect apps and tell them to work together. That flexibility is what makes Zapier so useful. You can automate simple tasks so you can focus on the more important things.
Additionally, there’s a good chance that automating simple tasks can reduce the possibility of human error.
Todoist is a project management software designed to meet the needs of small businesses. Todoist can handle the bulk of administrative work so that you can free up your manpower to handle other tasks.
Todoist bundles project scheduling, task management, and document management functionalities into one simple package.
You can access Todoist via your tablet or smartphone through the Todoist mobile app. Todoist works well with Google Docs and Dropbox, two of the other tools we mentioned. Todoist’s document management system allows you to upload and share documents through Google Docs and Dropbox.
Through the platform’s “Todoist Karma” module, you can easily prepare customized reports on projects. This is fantastic for staying on top of multiple projects that you’ve been juggling.
Todoist comes in three different pricing flavors: Todoist Free, Todoist Premium, and Todoist Business. The free and premium versions are for personal use, while the Business version is best for business applications.
7. Wealthbox CRM
Wealthbox is a web and mobile CRM system specifically designed for financial advisors. You can access Wealthbox’s sleek user interface via its website and mobile apps.
Wealthbox has many distinct features, such as click-to-call and social media monitoring. These features distinguish it from competing software.
You can try out Wealthbox for free for up to 30 days. If you fancy the software, you can continue using it for $35 per month per user with no long-term commitment.
Wealthbox secures your data using 256-bit encryption over SSL security to ensure that your data is kept private and confidential.
As a bonus, Wealthbox offers file storage integration with services like Dropbox and Google Drive. The mobile app also makes it easy to manage your activity while on the road.
Slack is a communication program that helps you communicate with your clients in real-time. Slack automatically segregates messages into project channels that you can search later on. It’s one of the few communication tools that provide this project-based segregation. It’s excellent for retrieving older messages.
You can communicate with clients in real-time. Slack recently unveiled a voice communication feature that allows you to record voice memos.
There are different price-points depending on your needs.
There’s no reason for you to hesitate to jump on board Slack. Slack is so reliable and intuitive that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory uses it as their primary means of communication. Surely, Slack can handle any Earth-based project you take on.
9. Google Calendar
Some people might believe that working virtually means not having to watch the clock. However, the opposite is true. When you’re away from a traditional office setting, time and schedule management becomes even more important.
Whether you need to track billable hours, or a simple way of planning your day, time management tools like Google Calendar will keep you productive.
Google Calendar is a fantastic time management tool for keeping track of your schedule and planning virtual appointments with clients.
On the internet, we consume media mainly through images and videos. Sometimes, it feels like words are no longer relevant. However, when it comes to remote work, writing and editing are some of the most important skills for you to hone.
Of course, you can have video meetings and phone calls, but you probably can’t completely do away with email and messaging. Additionally, your work as a virtual financial advisor might include typing blog posts and marketing messages.
Grammarly is an online writing assistant that serves as your own personal editor. Aside from verifying your spelling and grammar, it also checks your tone and clarity.
In the world of the new normal, working virtually will become standard. Working as a virtual financial advisor is exciting, empowering, and profitable. However, to make the most out of your experience, you’ll need several tools to support you along the way.
Take a look at the tools we’ve listed above and think about how you can integrate each into your workflow. You’ll find that your day-to-day work will flow more smoothly, allowing you to focus on the tasks that matter.