Clarion chartered financial planner Peter Butcher takes a look at how the lockdown has changed how we communicate with clients and whether that change will be permanent.

Video conferencing software has been available for several years, but it is only now that it has been truly embraced.

The benefits of Zoom are clear; the reduction in travel is time-efficient, saves money and helps the environment, while the ability to mute yourself (and others!) can be a lifesaver. Many of these benefits can result in improving the wellbeing of those involved in the meeting – whether that be due to not spending significant amounts of time at the wheel of your car or on a train, or feeling positive about reducing your carbon footprint.

The key questions are, “Is it here to stay?” and “Will it replace face-to-face meetings permanently?”.

In my opinion, video conferencing will play a much greater part in our social and professional lives, even once the various lockdown measures are removed. However, there are limitations to what it can achieve. Crucially, it is not possible to build the same level of rapport with someone or judge the subtle changes in body language without meeting in person.

At Clarion, our focus has never just been on the facts and figures. Understanding our clients is key to what we do and that is partly achieved by asking the right questions. Of course, what is said is important, but seeing how clients respond can also be vital. Noticing if someone folds their arms, shuffles in their seat or makes eye contact with you when a certain topic is discussed can provide a signal to ask further questions which can result in achieving a greater degree of understanding. These details matter to our clients and they matter to us.

So, will Zoom end the need for face-to-face meetings forever? As with many situations in life, the optimal solution will not be 100% of one option and 0% of the other. Covid-19 has forced us all to rethink how we provide our service and in doing so we have embraced a new form of communication.

Zoom won’t become the only way we hold meetings, and I fully expect face-to-face meeting to remain the first choice for most people, but it does provide us with another string to our bow when it comes to delivering a tailored, bespoke service to our clients.

 


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