Advisers face challenge in developing client relationships remotely
- The use of video conferencing has sky rocketed and the trend looks set to continue as only 6% of advisers expect to use it less when social distancing ends
- However, 73% of advisers say not being able to meet face to face inhibits development of client relationships
- Although advisers say virtual meetings come with benefits, namely keeping cost down (75%) and productivity gains (45%)
Face to face interactions have always been the foundation of adviser-client relationships. It’s perhaps inevitable therefore that 73% of advisers concede that not being able to meet face-to-face is a barrier to developing new client relationships.
In new research* from Aegon, carried out with over 200 advisers, it’s clear that the use of video conferencing has been the mainstay of adviser communications, with 67% of advisers using it more frequently. It also looks set to continue to be widely used, with only 6% saying they’ll use it less after social distancing ends.
The pros and cons of video conferencing
When contacting existing clients, video conferencing has a strong place. When it comes to its use for acquiring new clients though, it becomes less of a driving force. 71% of advisers state that it’s important to meet prospects face-to-face while 81% say clients prefer face-to-face contact.
While video conferencing may be challenging for developing client relationships, advisers do see many benefits in its use with existing clients. Nearly half (45%) of advisers admit to being more productive and 75% report cost benefits through use of video conferencing, presumably due to the reduction in travel times and meeting lengths. And this spare capacity will have been beneficial for the 31% of advisers who have reported an increase in client enquiries above normal levels, since the start of the crisis.
However, advisers are also aware that a virtual meeting solution is not a one size fits all approach and they are aware of barriers with some clients. In particular, 82% of advisers report having clients who aren’t tech savvy enough to use video conferencing.
Ronnie Taylor, Chief Distribution Officer at Aegon, comments:
“Restrictions triggered by coronavirus outbreak has turned planning profession on its head with advisers and their clients being nudged towards new behaviours and technologies.
“Technology has offered an alternative means of communication in lockdown, but once we’re unhindered by social distancing restrictions, it will be interesting to see if these changes become permanent.
“Our findings show that video conferencing isn’t suited to everyone and meeting in a virtual world, can’t replicate meeting in person. In particular when it comes to developing potential new client relationships, picking up on people’s body language is one of the important aspects of a client meeting as is the rapport that comes from face-to-face contact. It’s clear that this is just one of the many challenges that advisers will have to overcome in the new environment in which we’re all operating.”
*Research conducted by Opinium with 205 advisers between 20th and 26th May 2020
Notes to Editors
- In the UK, Aegon offers retirement, workplace savings and protection solutions to over three million customers. Aegon employs around 2000 people in the UK and together with a further 800 people employed by Atos, we serve the needs of our customers. More information: aegon.co.uk
- As an international life insurance, pensions and asset management group based in The Hague, Aegon has businesses in over twenty markets in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Aegon companies employ approximately 26,000 people and have millions of customers across the globe. Further information: aegon.com
Figures correct as of November 2019