What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Remote Financial Advisor?
In a hypercompetitive financial planning industry, one way to differentiate yourself from other similarly credentialed independent financial advisors is to embrace and offer new technologies to boost the level and size of your practice and provide increased value and services to your clients. Right now, there’s a rapidly growing trend toward financial advisors offering remote/virtual services to their clients. A financial advisor who offers remote/virtual services to his or her clients is known as a remote financial advisor (sometimes also referred to a a virtual financial advisor).
To recap from a previously published Summit Brokerage blog, entitled “Financial Planning 2.0: What is a Remote Financial Advisor”:
- A remote financial advisor is a financial advisor who works virtually (mainly through online interfacing) with his or her clients. Meetings—from introductory sessions to annual reviews—can be conducted via video conferencing and other types of client communications can be handled via phone calls or emails so that no physical “actually in the same room” client meetings ever have to occur.
- If you never have to meet your clients for face-to-face meetings, your practice can be location independent—meaning you don’t need to have a physical office but rather you can work from anywhere you have the requisite technology.
- A remote financial advisor is absolutely not the same thing as a robo-advisor. To learn more about robo-advisors, check out the previously published Summit Brokerage blog entitled “Humans vs. Robots: The Value of Using a Financial Advisor Over a Robo-Advisor”.
- Being a remote financial advisor neither has to be an all-or-nothing proposition nor does it have to be a drastic service model switch. Rather, being a remote financial advisor can be gradual and scalable. A financial advisor can simultaneously offer traditional face-to-face options as well as virtual/remote options for communicating his or her clients.
There are both advantages and disadvantages associated with being a remote financial advisor. Before deciding whether to offer remote/virtual financial advisory services to your clients—and if so, to what extent—you must carefully analyze the pros and cons. The following list is just a sampling of some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with being a remote financial advisor that you should seriously consider:
- Working as a remote financial advisor will give you a more flexible schedule, allowing you to “disconnect” from the office, increase your work-life balance, and travel.
- If you decide to have a completely remote/virtual practice, then you don’t need to have a permanent, physical office, which means substantially less overhead expenses. The cost of having a physical office is substantially higher than the cost of the technology required to work as a remote financial advisor.
- More flexibility for your clients. Like you, most of your clients probably have busy schedules and are constantly juggling multiple responsibilities. If meeting with you remotely will save them time and energy, then they will probably appreciate having this option.
- Increasingly tech-savvy clients have come to expect remote services from their financial advisor. Offering such remote services is also a great marketing tool and may help you attract a new generation of tech-savvy clients such as the Millennials.
- “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? While technology is constantly improving, it is not always reliable. Even if you have the best technology and 24/7 IT support, Murphy’s Law appears to especially apply to technology: your technology seems to often fail you when you need it the most. Do you remember when Bill Gates was presenting Windows 98 live on television and it crashed? Imagine conducting a huge, remote annual review meeting with one of your biggest clients, and you (or your client’s) Internet connection keeps going out or your teleconferencing software is acting up and you can’t see or hear your client clearly.
- When you lose the actual, real-life face-to-face connection with clients, it makes it harder to build trust—and this is an industry that is all about trust. Interfacing remotely will never quite be able to replace the value of a a firm, in-person handshake.
- In bad or unstable times (i.e., the market crashes or your client unexpectedly loses his job or takes a big financial hit), many clients are going to need and want physical “hand-holding” during uncertain times. Remote meetings via teleconferencing may not be enough to help assuage your client’s anxieties and fears.
For more information on Summit Brokerage Services and the first-in-class services offered by our independent financial advisors, visit https://www.summitbrokerage.com or call us at (800) 354-5528.
About Summit Brokerage Services
Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. is part of Cetera Financial Group®, a leading network of independent retail broker-dealers. Summit Brokerage provides a broad range of securities brokerage and investment services to primarily individual investors. Summit Brokerage also sells insurance products, predominantly fixed and variable annuities and life insurance through its subsidiary, SBS Insurance Agency of Florida. Summit Brokerage also provides asset management services through its investment advisor, Summit Financial Group, Inc.
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