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It’s no secret that the financial expertise offered by Liberty’s financial advisers is made even more meaningful by the nature of their close relationships with clients. Face-to-face meetings encourage trust and establish openness in the discussions about clients’ money that helps bring about positive change.

Talking about money, one’s own or that of others, never fails to be an engaging subject. In the case of one’s own numbers, physical meetings with financial advisers reinforce the atmosphere of confidentiality. This is important because bank balances represent the absolute truth of a person’s material worth.

A financial adviser is a coach, manager and psychological counsellor who deals with a client’s wealth aspirations. That advice is only valuable if it has a measurable and memorable impact on the life of a client.

Research has shown that the impact of intermediaries becomes evident when comparing the product holdings, financial position and net worth of consumers who use them, compared with consumers who don’t. 

While there is no real substitute for face-to-face meetings, virtual meetings do offer another avenue to maintain contact and share ideas. Before Covid this was rare, but with changes in the working environment, Liberty’s financial advisers have been asking themselves how they can extend the value of their relationships online.

Time and accessibility 

On one level, online meetings save a great deal of time. Studies have shown that once clients become comfortable with their adviser relationship having a virtual dimension, most are satisfied with this medium for certain future engagements.

Another issue is accessibility. An online adviser can be requested for discussion much faster than they would in the physical world of traffic jams and meetings that run late. This is why many have realised that financial advisers can, in many instances, be engaged just as successfully on a virtual platform as they can in person.

Working with clients to help them make the best decisions to live the life they want is fast becoming the new benchmark for providing meaningful and valuable advice that really matters from a client’s perspective.

What clients really want

Liberty’s research shows that clients don’t lie awake at night worrying about the performance of their funds. They worry about the impact of real-life events: having another child, where to educate their children, their holidays, and whether they can afford to eat out once they’ve retired. The more adept Liberty’s financial advisers become at speaking to these issues, the more valuable their advice becomes.

With the advent of internet-based financial services, people are now in a position where they can buy almost any financial product themselves in the digital marketplace. Though this is convenient, it still leaves consumers with a lack of clarity about whether the products they have purchased are best suited to helping them achieve what they need.

There has been a shift away from planning for specific events such as retirement, paying for education or losing one’s ability to look after one’s family’s financial needs. This has now pivoted towards planning for sustainable lifestyles, known as financial life planning. With the evolution of financial planning software, it’s now possible for financial advisers to help their clients understand the long-term consequences of their decisions so that they don’t fall into the lifestyle trap of choosing a standard of living they cannot afford to maintain.

Offering real value online

Helping clients paint a clear picture of the life they want to live, and being able to see whether that life is achievable, is fast becoming the essence of financial advice.

Given the magnitude of these decisions, achieving open and productive discussions online is becoming more achievable as more people become attuned to virtual meetings.

Successful virtual engagement does, however, mean that the advice technology used by financial advisers needs to support a meaningful virtual discussion.

Clients are showing a preference for using internet-based meeting solutions such as Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams to have in-depth conversations and receive financial advice that makes sense to them. So far, these mediums appear to be trusted conduits for confidential discussions.

This means that the advice technology used by financial advisers needs to provide a clear, powerful and meaningful virtual experience. This solution, which is close to completion, will be piloted with Liberty’s advisers in the final quarter of 2020, with a view to a broader launch to all of our advisers early in 2021.

Getting this right means that advisers will not only be able to demonstrate and deliver their value, they will also be able to successfully look after more clients and possibly offer more services to others. This is due to the significant time savings offered by emerging technologies.

These technologies are just another way for Liberty’s financial advisers to remain close to their clients, being there when they need them the most by offering meaningful advice that makes a real difference to lives.

This article does not constitute tax, legal, financial, regulatory, accounting, technical or other advice. The material has been created for information purposes only and does not contain any personal recommendations. While every care has been taken in preparing this material, no member of Liberty gives any representation, warranty or undertaking and accepts no responsibility or liability as to the accuracy, or completeness of the information presented.

About the author: Henry van Deventer is chief specialist: advice model design at Liberty.

Liberty Group Limited is licensed insurer and an authorised financial services provider (no 2409). 

This article was paid for by Liberty.

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