Even so, I applaud all Planners and Paraplanners who have shifted tech mountains to make it work.
However despite all this and what many experts say, I’m sceptical that many planners will permanently drop face-to-face meetings with clients or see remote working in a spare room or a shed (however fancy Martin!) as the be-all and end-all of business life.
Like many planners I’m working from home in the spare room. I must admit lunches in a sunny garden are a real bonus and I’m enjoying the daily walks through the park but it’s not forever. Even the cat’s getting bored with me being home.
I’m already missing the buzz of the office (well some of it to be honest) and certainly missing trips into central London to meet up with contacts and friends. I’m sure most planners are missing human contact too although garden meetings, as Nicola Watts has tried recently, seem a great idea to me.
As restrictions ease more of us will be returning to offices but perhaps enjoying the flexibility to work from home more often, one of the few positives from the pandemic.
Some of these views are not just mine but were reported in FundsNetwork’s latest IFA DNA research which revealed that more than half (51%) of financial advisers say working remotely with clients has been their biggest personal challenge in adapting to the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to the survey while many firms moved swiftly to remote working this has often come alongside signification disruption. Some 30% of advisers experienced difficulties because of their reliance on paper-based documents, for example.
The fact is that while the technology has improved there are still many hurdles to full remote working and a face to face meeting with clients is often very efficient. No hiccups with Zoom cutting you off after 40 minutes, no struggle with broadband disappearing, just people in a room having a cup of tea and talking about the future for an hour or two.
There will be many planners who are happy with video calls and perhaps younger clients may warm to this quicker, particularly if newer firms can offer lower cost advice as a result. For the mainstream client, however, I suspect nothing will beat seeing your Financial Planners face-to-face and this will not change.
Apart from being a key part of the process, face-to-face meetings also help differentiate Financial Planners from the banks, building societies and other vendors of financial services. Losing this USP will not be a step forward.
Kevin O’Donnell is editor of Financial Planning Today and a financial journalist with 30 years experience. This topical comment on the Financial Planning news appears most weeks.