4 Things to Consider Before Working with a Virtual Financial Adviser

4 Things to Consider Before Working with a Virtual Financial Adviser

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many routine in-person interactions went virtual. Thousands of companies moved some (or all) of their business online, including financial advisers trying to stay connected with their investors. Though it presented some initial challenges, the shift to online meetings over Zoom or FaceTime enabled financial advisers and investors to grow accustomed to this new normal.

One chief benefit of moving to a virtual wealth management model is convenience. It has allowed clients and advisers to meet more frequently, enabling the latter to be more responsive to individuals’ needs. Plus, financial services (e.g., in-person adviser meetings, digital solutions) are now more accessible as firms are less limited by geographic borders.

Although virtual wealth management might have improved reach and availability, it hasn’t changed the wealth management strategies clients receive. Despite this fact, people still have plenty of questions about what going virtual means for their financial future.

Making Sense of Virtual Wealth Management

Virtual financial advisers can counsel you via video conference, phone or email. Advisers use these platforms to provide guidance on which investments to add to your portfolio, developing an overall wealth management strategy based on your long- and short-term goals. It’s all done electronically rather than in person, which can make the service much more accessible. As you’re free to work with nearly any adviser, you’re then able to choose one who has advised other people in similar situations.

Because you can meet regularly with this individual remotely, a relationship may form as they come to understand your unique circumstances. As a result, that adviser begins to recognize areas where you might struggle or need assistance—and they can help prioritize your action items and offer personalized financial advice. These insights, in turn, may help you reach your financial goals in a timely fashion.

Nothing can replace a face-to-face wealth management encounter, but the convenience offered by virtual visits makes them more viable for anyone who is interested.

Working with a Virtual Financial Adviser

Generally speaking, working with a virtual financial adviser is similar to interacting with an in-person adviser. You get all the benefits of meeting with a financial adviser with the bonus of greater convenience and potentially more frequent check-ins. That said, it’s still important to prepare to ensure you’re making the most of everyone’s time.

Here are a few things to consider before your next wealth management strategy session:

1. Communicate beforehand. 

If there are any specific topics you want to discuss, let your adviser know ahead of time. Work up an agenda and send it via email a few days in advance.

Include any pressing questions or concerns. Although you can certainly ask anything during a remote wealth management meeting, you’ll likely need to provide certain documentation (e.g., investment documentation, tax info) beforehand.

Give your adviser time to conduct the necessary research to prepare for the discussion to speed up the process and provide you with the insights you need.

2. Gather the necessary information. 

When you’re doing any financial planning work with your adviser, ensure your financial information (e.g., tax returns, bank statements, housing documents) is readily available. That way, you’re not spending time during the meeting trying to dig up the necessary documentation.

If you’ve sent an agenda for your next virtual wealth management session, perhaps organize that information by topic to keep the meeting running smoothly. That way, your adviser can organize their expertise and come to the meeting prepared to share their findings.

3. Don’t expect it all to get done at once. 

Remember that most of a virtual wealth manager’s work happens outside of meetings. They might need to get back to you with an answer.

If you have a complicated matter to discuss (e.g., financial modeling, planning questions), first set up a time with your adviser to provide them with all of the information they’ll need to answer your question—but don’t expect an immediate answer. Schedule a future date to discuss their conclusions so your adviser has time to explore the matter thoroughly.

4. Keep on top of paperwork. 

If your adviser needs any signatures or documents from you, send those materials promptly.

Waiting days for a client to review or fill out paperwork can hold up progress, which can ultimately impede your long-term financial goals. Fortunately, electronic documents can make this process easier and more efficient.

The adviser-client relationship relies on trust. Some people find it more challenging to build trust in a virtual setting, which means they might prefer in-person meetings. Given time, however, you should find that you’re receiving the same level of service from a virtual financial adviser as you would from that same professional if they were sitting across the table from you.

Photo by Vitalii Matokha/Shutterstock

Disclosure: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation of any particular strategy. There are no assurances that any predicted results will actually occur. The views are those of Adam Strauss as of the date of publication and are subject to change and to the disclaimers of Pekin Hardy Strauss Wealth Management.

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Adam Strauss is the co-CEO of Pekin Hardy Strauss Wealth Management. The firm takes a long-term view toward wealth preservation and growth, thinking deeply about business and debt cycles. It seeks opportunities to invest in undervalued, high-quality companies that are responsibly managed. Adam is also a portfolio manager of a publicly traded, value-oriented, global allocation mutual fund. He received his bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Stanford University.

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