Six ‘lockdown habits’ advisers should keep

This article first appeared in Professional Adviser

Whether it’s because we had to or wanted to, lockdown gave us all the opportunity to do things differently. But which of these new habits are likely to remain part of everyday life? I share my thoughts…

I recently saw a post on social media, asking about new habits people had taken up since lockdown started.

Answers were intriguing and varied. Gardening. Spending more time with the family. Cooking. Playing the piano. Watching endless hours of Disney+.

Whether it’s because we had to or wanted to, lockdown gave us all the opportunity to do things differently. In recent weeks, deserted offices and increased demand for homes on the coast have shown that some changes are likely to remain.

One thing all financial advisers will be able to say with certainty is that they adopted new methods and processes in the last six months. But which are those that should be kept and incorporated into our permanent ways of working?

Here are six.

  1. Virtual networking

While it’s not been possible to meet peers and professional contacts face to face, online networking events have thrived.

From webinars to virtual conferences, lockdown has given advisers plenty of opportunities to find new professional connections and maintain their relationship with current ones. Considering you don’t even have to leave your office (or home) to join them, this could be a more time and cost-efficient means of networking going forward.

  1. More regular communication with clients

We’ve always kept in touch with clients through annual face-to-face reviews and ad hoc meetings, but the adoption of video conferencing as an integral part of the client relationship has revolutionised this interaction, certainly in terms of ‘frequency of contact’.

While video calls may be no substitute for face-to-face advice, they’re an undeniably good way of staying in touch. Aside from removing travelling time, they importantly maintain social distancing for high-risk or more vulnerable clients.

And it’s not just video that has improved communication. Advisers have been upping the ante on activity such as newsletters and blogs, as well as online events and webinars. Clients have largely welcomed these initiatives, so they look set to be embedded as a part of ongoing relationships.

  1. Focusing on staff wellbeing/company culture

With offices sitting empty, many firms have focused on the wellbeing of their staff and have taken strong steps to ensure their team ethic remains strong.

From regular online catchups to social events such as virtual quizzes, it’s likely that these team-building efforts will continue even after lockdown is over. Many firms will be in the office less often, so continuing to bring the team together virtually will remain important.

  1. Working on the business, not in it

Fewer face-to-face meetings have freed up time for business planning and strategy. Many advisers have found themselves being able to work on implementing new back-office systems, finally getting around to updating their tired website, or creating a new marketing, lead generation and/or client retention strategy to drive their business post-lockdown.

Ensuring your business is always moving forward is a great habit to maintain in the future.

  1. Building on personal knowledge

With clients to see and reports to write, it can be hard to find the time for personal development. Lockdown has given advisers the time to do valuable and worthwhile CPD, from exam study to attending product provider webinars.

As an example, when the current crisis is over, clients will need help to recover and build for the future. Decumulation is, therefore, one area it may make sense to build up skills and knowledge, both because there is likely to be more scrutiny from the FCA in the future, but ultimately to get the best outcomes for clients.

  1. Reviewing clients’ protection

Many advisers spent months of lockdown reassuring clients about their portfolio in the light of global stock market volatility. However, it has also been a great opportunity to talk to people about the life, illness, and income protection they have in place.

Protection is still the cornerstone of all the best financial plans. While it has been particularly appropriate to discuss this during a pandemic, this is something advisers should consider continuing to build into their discussions.

Those firms who successfully build these factors into their long-term ways of working are far more likely to thrive as we enter the ‘new normal’.