Editor’s Note: We’ve come a long way in a very short time. In less than 20 years broadband Internet access has permeated most corners of our country and unlocked the innovative services Marty discusses here. We would add one additional thought – Google claims more than 550 million Gmail users worldwide – and we would be shocked if a majority of your clients don’t also have a Gmail address. This makes the thought of using Google Hangouts for meetings quite approachable – as anyone with a Gmail address has the key to attend a Hangout (private or public).
The tentacles of technology have wrapped themselves in every sector of our world economy. Communicating via landlines quickly becoming nostalgic memory as smart phones make up the bulk of phone conversations.
Here are some Pew Research stats:
As of January 2014:
- 90% of American adults have a cell phone
- 58% of American adults have a smartphone
- 32% of American adults own an e-reader
- 42% of American adults own a tablet computer
When I began working with financial advisors besides the landline phone, the fax machine was the 2nd most important piece of hardware at our disposal. It was another means of communicating information to one another.
The next best thing? Well, that next thing has actually been around for some time, but it was only in the 1980’s when this digital telephony technology transmission (aka, ISDN networks) became possible. Prior to that NASA used two radio-frequency (UHF or VHF) video links to communicate.
“Houston, we have a problem…” Remember that? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTSVOnhLtCs .
Fast-forward to the 1990’s and technologists have figured out how to enable us to work with video, but they were proprietary hardware and software products that were rather expensive for anyone other than the most monied companies. Financial advisors had no choice but to rely on phone, visiting the clients’ home or them visiting their advisors office.
Today there is no excuse not to be able to meet with your client and it doesn’t have to be in person thanks to modern day video conferencing services. Expanded use of broadband around the country (and the world) means for most, using these modern services is both economical and a pleasant experience.
FaceTime for Mac and iOS users
Viber available on Windows PC and Mac
UberConference – Though not a video conference option it’s a great audio conferencing tool if you have multiple clients spread across the country.
Zoom – offers cloud video conferencing
Join.me –when others need to see your screen.
A really cool feature on Google Hangouts is you don’t have to get a third party software to start using it. You simply need to sign up for free Gmail, or have a Google plus account, and VOILA, you can have access to Google hangouts.
The Join.me site is one I wished existed when walking my financial advisor clients through a trading screen, or filling out more complicated client applications that were available on-line. With Join.me, once the person you’re speaking with goes to the website you simply give them the numeric code that’s generated on your side. They plug it in on their side, and in seconds they see your computer screen. You can then walk them through their performance report, or monthly statement or training them on features of your web site.
A great way to test any of these platforms is within your own office. Maybe with another staff member, or with a friend or a family member. The companies listed all offer free plans and some with paid services upgrades. Get acquainted with these so you are able to baby step a client on how to see you face-to-face using one of these products.
Of course, your GenX (or GenY Millennial) clients might already be familiar but it’s important to be able to easily walk a baby boomer client through this.
Besides the obvious commodity of time, Videoconferencing can potentially save a financial advisor thousands of dollars in the cost of airfare, hotels, and meals if they have out of state clients they meet with annually. So that once a year trip can be turned into video meetings that are done on the fly.
It’ll be exciting for both the advisor and client to be able to see each other, without having to drive to meet if distance is an obstacle. This can lead to possibly having more client meetings, which is of course great for those with out of state clients. Building stronger relations with your clients is what it’s all about and this technology should be part of every financial advisors arsenal.