Virtual meetings and screen sharing have huge potential to help advisers work with clients differently during the COVID-19 pandemic. These pages have been created to help make as much information as possible available to advisers quickly. Rather than wait to produce an exhaustive summary this includes as much information as possible now. It will be added to regularly as more content becomes available. If you think there is something we should add please contact the author via @LinkedIn

Current market conditions clearly make it essential for advisers to be reaching out and talking to  clients. However physical meetings are clearly not an option. As we all adapt to unprecedented changes in daily life there are opportunities to spend time exploring different ways of working. Virtual meetings/screen shares are a perfect example of this.

This summary aims to take advisers who may have had limited experience of using such services through various choices and provide guidance on how to get the best out of such services.

It looks at a wide range of options, from the cheapest that are embedded within devices advisers will already own, through mass market widely adopted solutions, to highly sophisticated alternatives. I will explore the different possibilities available to users of the various industry software. Rather than wait until all responses are received from the suppliers. Again, such content will be updated as more information is received.

The current emergency is far from the only reason why embracing virtual meetings make sense. They can actually provide huge efficiency benefits, reducing the amount of time people would otherwise spend travelling, providing enhanced compliance records, saving cash-rich time poor clients time.

For all of these options you are going to need:

  • A computer, tablet or smart phone
  • A reliable Internet connection
  • Also, a dedicated WebCam, headset and microphone will help produce a much better results

Virtual meeting tools fall into a number of categories:

Simple and Cheap vs Complex and Integrated

You really can choose how much or how little you want to invest in virtual meetings. There are genuine no cost options that can get anyone up and running in minutes. Equally most of the main adviser practice management systems have built detailed integration with specialist partners. In the long run the services will have the ability to streamline processes and bring significant business efficiencies through deeper integration with the underlying practice management software. This should improve management information marketing capability and regulatory reporting but realistically can only be achieved if a structured program of training and rollout is provided to all users. There is no point in committing to the additional costs involved if you’re not going to commit time to learning how to use them fully.

Don’t have unrealistic expectations of how easy they will be to adopt short term. They involve significant changes to ways of working. In the longer term this can bring real value but things aren’t going to change overnight.

What are the options:

A practical and pragmatic approach is probably a good first step

While in the long-term specialist tools integrated to your practice management system are almost certainly the right long-term answer, advisers need to be comfortable with new services and be able to engage with clients in different ways quickly and easily. In the immediate future we would advocate adoption of one or more of the simple screen-sharing tools to become comfortable with the concept.

If you haven’t used this sort of technology before it can be really valuable to practice with colleagues first. Take this as an opportunity to agree with your team how are you will each use screen sharing technology within your own business going forward.

Similarly, when you are holding a remote meeting with a client for the first time it’s a really good idea to spend a few minutes talking them through the technology, making them aware of the controls on the system and generally getting them comfortable with the process.

A huge compliance benefit of virtually all such systems is that the session can be recorded; this can be either with video or in some instances if you prefer just audio only. While personally I would prefer to keep the full video to refer back to, this can take up a lot of storage space.

Always be very clear with clients that you are recording the meeting. Again, good systems will notify users when someone starts recording and some even display a message saying that by participating in the call the individual is agreeing to be recorded.

Many packages now also offer an automated transcript of the conversation. For example, this is an embedded function within Microsoft Teams and Zoom uses an integration with Otter.ai to provide this. To set expectations realistically, these are currently some way from perfect, but they are improving all the time. Auto transcription certainly offers a good foundation for producing a detailed transcript. You could either do this yourself or there are agencies who will take your file and transcribe it for you.