The new playing field

Advisor | July 2020

What is the impact of Covid19 on the field of financial consultancy? What legacy will it leave? What are the challenges for the financial field and how are we to face them? What will remain of the Covid-19 emergency 

We, as Italian people, love life – resilience, survivability and creativity are our biggest strengths. Lately, many industries have given proof of their resilience, in particular the industry which manages our greatest asset: our savings.  

In fact, thousands of financial advisors, private bankers and bank managers worked throughout the lockdown, monitoring our projects, managing our worries and money.  

Since the very beginning of the lockdown, the opportunities for contact with financial professionals have quadrupled. Indeed, unable to meet their clients in person, professionals did not lose heart: they got on the phone, sent videos, emails, promoted video calling and video conferencing.  

As a result of the social-distancing measures, meeting became our biggest desire; and, to everyone’s surprise, it was much easier that we had anticipated.  

Quite unexpectedly, social distancing produced a new kind of relationship – between clients and financial professionals, but also between professionals, banks and asset management partners.  

Here are some of the figures: in the period between 9 March and 7 June, the frequency of communication between clients and financial professionals (financial advisors, private bankers, bank managers) quadrupled (from 17% to 71%); the level of satisfaction with the information and attention received from financial professionals doubled (from 42% to 83%). 

The phone – the most widely-used means of communication at the beginning of the lockdown (44%) – soon gave way to video calling (41%) (source: FINER® Lockdown Monitor; sample: 8.500 interviews conducted in 17 weeks starting on 9 March; they involved FAs, PBs, Bank Managers and end investors).  

Similar trends characterize business-to-business communication, that is communication between financial professionals (financial advisors, private bankers, bank managers), banks and asset management companies.  

It is safe to say that the lockdown has laid the groundwork for a new kind of intimacy between clients and financial professionals, the product of a shared sense of danger and social isolation.  

The combination of these two factors – sense of danger and social isolation – urged the more resourceful financial professionals to find new communication strategies. 

This led to extraordinary results – for example, many roadshow meetings, which used to gather a few hundred advisors, have been replaced by webinars capable of reaching thousands of professionals at ten times lower costs.  

But how effective can these new strategies be in terms of capability to generate value? 

The figures referring to the ability to keep old clients and, most importantly, win new ones suggest the presence of some successful instances, professionals who are riding the wave and acquiring positions; some others, however, appear to be sinking.  

New rules and a new playing field, then; however, just as before or even more than before, the winners are the most reactive and creative.