Luke Holloway reveals how a series of short videos on the PFS Power website feature advisers sharing good practice on how to serve clients during a global pandemic
The coronavirus outbreak has presented some unique challenges for financial planning practitioners: working from home long term; adapting client meetings; communication; and maintaining healthy wellbeing. These have all been tests that advisers have had to overcome.
During this unprecedented time, the PFS Power website has been a platform where personal finance professionals can share ideas about what has worked for them and offer advice on a variety of subjects to help fellow advisers work more efficiently and focus on achieving greater outcomes for clients.
The multimedia section includes ‘Power 5-Minutes’ videos, where practitioners share their thoughts in five-minute ‘hits’. One such video is from Garry Hale, owner of HK Wealth and a past president of the PFS, who talks about the lessons he has learned during his 18 years in business that are relevant in the current health crisis.
Mr Hales says: “My business is small and I’m a sole adviser with less than 90 clients. I think small businesses can be profitable and successful, and are well placed to handle a variety of situations, just like that we are now faced with.”
Mr Hale says that choosing first- rate companies to work alongside has proved its worth during the pandemic. “I use Dimensionaland Vanguard [fund and asset management platforms, respectively] and their support has been excellent.
“I also use Nucleus as my main client platform and their service has been great throughout this period. It has been business as usual, even with the whole company working from home, which I think hasbeen incredible.”
With regard to dealing with clients, Mr Hale stresses the importance of transparency, even at a time when you cannot meet face to face.
“Be honest with people,” he says. “Always tell the truth, admit when you make mistakes and resolve them quickly. Also, admit when you don’t know something, but get back to them as soon as you possibly can with an answer.
“I have maintained strongcontact with clients through emails, newsletter and individual calls – and I think that is key.
“Like many people, I’m enjoying doing virtual calls and video chats – and they serve a purpose at this point in time – but once this is all over I am looking forward to getting back to meeting real people in the real world, face to face,” adds Mr Hale.
Pick up the phone to clients – just because the phone isn’t ringing, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you
Ruth Sturkey, client director at Paradigm Norton, offers her take on both team and client communication during the coronavirus crisis, via her video on the PFS Power website.
In terms of internal communication, Ms Sturkey tells professionals that continued dialogue across the organisation is paramount. “You really cannot communicate with team members and colleagues enough at this stage,” she says. “We know people are coping with getting used to new technology, home schooling, caring for relatives, concerns about their partners’ jobs – we all have things we are having to deal with.”
Ms Sturkey gives several examples of ways of keeping in touch, including a weekly company ‘huddle’ ledby senior staff, giving business updates and answering any concerns employees may have around work practices and job security.
“We want to make sure our team remain in the best health they possibly can while going through this anxious time. This also includes a call from our people team to every single member of staff to check in on their individual circumstances,” she says.
On a daily basis, her team members have a morning call discussing how people are feeling day to day, tasks and workflows. In the afternoon,the team gets together socially for a cup of tea and virtual chat away from anything finance-related.
“Externally, it is so important we continue to pick up the phone and talk to our clients,” says Ms Strukey.
“This is a time when they really need us. In my experience, they are not worried about what is going on with their portfolios, they are more interested in hearing from us and being assured that we are there to guide them through the crisis if they need advice around cashflows, cash levels, savings, whatever it may be.
“We sent a mailer to clients, including a Q&A on what we are doing as a firm during the crisis and the measures we’ve put in place to make sure our team and clients remain in a good place as we navigate this.
“We are also using video conferencing to make sure we have our normal annual planning meetings with clients. We give them a call beforehand, talk them through the technology we will be using, explain how we will share screens and make sure it is just as interactive as a meeting in the office.
“The clients are really appreciating that sense of normality and the opportunity to air their concerns.
“Just communicate. Listen to the concerns people may have internally, make sure people aren’t working too hard, they are getting rest and they are coping. And pick up the phone to clients – just because the phone isn’t ringing, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you,”she concludes. You can find these videos and offer your own ‘Power 5-Minutes’ at: pfspower.org/power- 5-minutes”
Luke Holloway is the editor of PFP