Advisor | October 2020
Going back to work after our first post-pandemic summer made it clear that nothing will be as before. Today, the headquarters of banks and insurance companies, which used to host thousands of workers, look like cathedrals in the desert; only small groups of people are allowed in, while meeting still take place online.
In all likelihood, we will have to wave goodbye to our old habits for a while – crowded meetings, long journeys, business meals, events hosting hundreds of people.
Until the Covid-19 vaccine is fully available, the fear of infection is going to prevail over business, as it should be. Indeed, one third of the Italian workers are currently experiencing a sense of uncertainty and fear due to the risk of infection. On the other hand, our new habits and virtual means of communication will form an integral part of our future working life.
During the pandemic, Italy has witnessed a rise in online payments via credit card, something quite meaningful in a nation known for its use and abuse of cash. The same can be said of our recent rediscovery of nature, of green and open spaces (terraces and balconies); this is also affecting the criteria for evaluating residential properties.
Clearly, the pandemic has brought along some irreversible consequences. It is therefore essential that financial professionals, financial advisors, private bankers and their clients prove capable of facing the change with its many opportunities, without submitting to it passively. To this end, we need to get acquainted with the new the means of communication, hardware and software products.
As compared to face-to-face meetings or conferences, virtual communication requires brief and concise presentations. During virtual meetings the attention span tends to be much shorter than during face-to-face meetings. In fact, being less visible means that it is much easier to get distracted (reading texts, doing something else, etc.).
The quality of the video, audio, framing, lights, and background have become crucial elements for a successful meeting with clients, colleagues or suppliers.
We have all witnessed low-quality webinars with long and boring monologues, distant or unprepared moderators, terrible audio and video quality, blurred images and so on. Interestingly, these factors go beyond the skills of the speaker, our interest in the topic or the reputation of the organizer.
On the other hand, there are highly effective webinars, in which a good moderator – like a good conductor – leads the debate between the speakers, periodically summarizes the content, and interacts with the attendees via chat or live poll.
Much can be learned from TV debates, in which the rapid pace and limited time dictate a high concentration of talks. It is no coincidence that journalists – even those working in print media – adapted quickly and efficiently to virtual means of communication.
(Remote) client management has become an essential feature for financial advisors, who have all discovered the objective advantages brought by the optimization of costs and time.
Of course, face-to-face communication remains a key element depending on the nature of the subject, the importance of the interlocutors, or when the number of interlocutors or the dimension of the physical spaces allows for it. So, those who believe that sooner or later everything will go back to normal may be mistaken.
A final message to financial advisors and private bankers: we never stop learning and adding new competences and skills. So, learn from anchormen and work on your screen presence. This will have a positive impact on your business.