It wasn’t that long ago that most of my client meetings were face to face discussions which took some time to complete. Not only did clients want to assess a potential adviser but the adviser wanted to understand the client in return. Once the relationship was established, meetings would occur from time to time as plans and investments were adjusted to address changes in needs and goals. Meeting face to face was, for many, the most common and preferred approach.
As technology advanced, offering us more ways to communicate and record those communications, some clients moved away from face to face meetings. That technology allowed advisers to serve remote clients – hundreds or even thousands of miles away – fairly effectively. Today, we are seeing yet another change, driven by younger clients who are not interested in personal contact and happy to work with persons they have never met nor expect to meet. For these clients, meetings are often face to face over the computer or voice to voice over a smartphone, computer or other device.
While there is nothing wrong about either approach, it is important for an adviser to understand what type of client they are seeking to serve and whether the adviser should go all in on digital meetings or push back and stay with the more traditional face to face meeting. In many cases, it will be appropriate to offer various approaches and allow the client to choose the one they prefer.
This can be a tricky area to manage since some clients, particularly those of long standing, generally wish to continue as they have been working. They may be more comfortable with that periodic meeting in the adviser’s office or in their home where the personal relationship grows and interaction is easier. On the other hand, some older clients will embrace new technologies and enjoy the ability to communicate remotely, while the newest and youngest clients will likely expect that approach.
Although you as an adviser likely have a preference as to how to approach client meetings, it will be important to understand and work with the client’s personal preference. In many cases, though, a face to face meeting may be the best way to cement a new relationship as it does give both parties a chance to understand the other.