How to Thrive in a Virtual Environment
With many advisors forced to workremotely amid the COVID- 19 pandemic,many of them for the first time, there areseveral important steps that advisoryfirms can take — if they haven’t already —to deploy an effective virtual environmentand to “thrive,” according to TD AmeritradeInstitutional executives.
Although “workingvirtually is something many of ushave done” already,Craig Cintron, seniormanager of institutional consultingat the firm, saidduring an Aprilwebcast, advisors need to make suretheir staff and clients feel comfortabledoing so. This is especially importantas many firms may have been forcedinto shifting abruptly to remote workand had to “fast track some of thesedecisions,” he conceded.
“The key is to embrace the change,”he said, adding: “The client experienceneeds to evolve and adapt as your client expectations are changed by theirenvironments. It all starts with theassociative experience and if you takecare of your associates, they will takecare of clients.”
In a recent Forbes survey, 95% of more
than 300 senior executives polled
said video communications will have
a positive impact on performance and
that “video creates a greater sense of
trust.” That is “really good news because
a lot of advisors were already starting
to incorporate a virtual option for their
associates and some are learning to do it
on the fly,” Cintron said.
That applies to advisors’ clients also, he
said, adding: “They still want to see you
and having a video option to do so helps
you continue to serve them and deepen
Also, the impor-
tance of cybersecurity
means do “not use
a public hotspot
like the ones
large cable com-
panies or from
he said, add-
ing “they are not password-protected.”
Remote Work Benefits
Keep in mind the obvious benefits toworking from home. “Perhaps you candecrease your office space needs” andeven your equipment needs by keeping remote work as an option, Cintronpointed out.
Even after this crisis ends, offeringa working remotely option may “helpyou recruit and retain associates locallyand around the country that maybe youdidn’t have access to before,” as wellas attract clients from outside the localarea,” he said.
Also, advisory firm leaders shouldbe sympathetic to the challenges thatassociates face during this crisis. “Youmay find some of your staff, and youindividually, thrive at different times during the day, or you may need time to carefor children” and the elderly, so “the keyhere is to promote flexibility,” he said.
Team collaboration can be encouraged
by setting up remote ways to duplicate
what had normally been done to foster
teamwork in the office. Cintron’s TD
team had already been working virtually
for some time, but it has “grown a lot
closer over the past five or six weeks, and
all we’ve done is make a few tweaks,” he
said. As examples, in addition to its vir-
tual team meetings on Mondays, it now
has virtual water cooler conversations
on Thursdays with no set agenda and
added virtual happy hours once or twice
a month, he said.
Importance of Being Web FriendlyTodd McMullen, vice president oftechnology consulting, went on to telladvisory firms that a company website“absolutely needs to be mobile-friendly,”especially now when everybody is working remotely and may be using theirsmartphones and tablets to access websites rather than their PCs, he noted.
Also, speak to clients and prospectiveclients to find out which platforms theyspend their time using, and “that’s whereyou need to be focusing your effort,” hesaid. Adding a blog or a video newsletter or other relevant content to a firm’swebsite also can boost Internet searchrankings significantly, he added.
Other virtual meeting tips include: Setup your virtual office in a way that iscomfortable and has good lighting; havean agenda; dial or click into the meetingearly to overcome any technical issues;try to avoid meetings too early or toolate in the day that can interfere with thepersonal lives of clients; and always tryto include web links and dial-in information when sending out meeting information to help those clients who are lesstech-savvy. —Jeff Berman
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