Advisers say loss of face to face meetings is inhibiting their prospecting for new clients and developing new client relationships - although there have been benefits in working remotely with existing clients.
More than 200 financial advisers were surveyed for new Aegon research.
The news comes as more recent signs suggest that some Financial Planners may be beginning to see clients again. A Twitter Poll for Financial Planning Today this week suggests that one in four planners have seen clients in the past few months. You can vote in the poll here: Financial Planning Today Twitter Poll
Aegon carried out its research on client engagement with more than 200 advisers in the second half of May and found that video conferencing had become the mainstay of adviser communications with 67% of advisers using it more frequently. Only 6% say they will use it less after social distancing ends.
The provider found that when contacting existing clients, video conferencing had a “strong place” in communication but when it came to acquiring new clients its shortcomings were evident with some 71% of advisers stating that it was still important to meet prospects face-to-face while 81% say clients preferred face-to-face contact.
For existing clients many advisers see benefits in video meetings. Nearly half (45%) of advisers said they were more productive when using video and 75% reported cost savings through the use of video calling. Some 31% of advisers reported an increase in client enquiries above normal levels since the start of the crisis.
On the negative side, 82% of advisers reported having clients who were not tech savvy enough to use video conferencing.
Ronnie Taylor, chief distribution Officer at Aegon, said: “Restrictions triggered by the Coronavirus outbreak have turned the planning profession on its head with advisers and their clients being nudged towards new behaviours and technologies. Technology has offered an alternative means of communication in lockdown, but once we’re unhindered by social distancing restrictions, it will be interesting to see if these changes become permanent.
“Our findings show that video conferencing isn’t suited to everyone and meeting in a virtual world, can’t replicate meeting in person. In particular when it comes to developing potential new client relationships, picking up on people’s body language is one of the important aspects of a client meeting as is the rapport that comes from face-to-face contact. It’s clear that this is just one of the many challenges that advisers will have to overcome in the new environment in which we’re all operating.”
*Research was conducted by Opinium with 205 advisers between 20 and 26 May.