6 MIN READ
The wealth management industry will experience tremendous changes over the next decade. Consumers today increasingly use Skype or FaceTime to discuss personal matters and connect with friends and family around the world. Factors such as the development of new customer segments and rapid technological advances are why virtual financial advisors are the new normal.
Large global asset management firms are becoming aware of this. There is an increased focus on virtual advice centers that try to offer a high level of personal support from top-class advisors. This is in stark contrast to more traditional call centers with less personal advice.
What does it mean to be a virtual financial advisor?
A virtual financial advisor is someone who either has very limited or no face-to-face meetings with prospects and clients. Rather, the consultant uses video conferencing platforms and robust financial technology in his meetings with prospects and customers.
This does not necessarily mean that the consultant does not have a physical office. Virtual financial advisors can have their own physical office space or use virtual workspaces such as WeWork.
Less commuting and personal meetings also mean less CO2 emissions and less paper waste. Virtual financial advisors will help you save time, money, and even the environment.
Does working with a virtual financial advisor save you time?
Picture that… It’s 5:30 pm and you’ve just finished work. You and your spouse have a 6pm meeting at your financial advisor’s office, which is 15 miles away. You got stuck in a meeting that lasted 10 minutes.
You are stuck in a traffic jam desperately trying to call your spouse because you are 15 minutes late. The sweat builds up around your collar as you try to navigate traffic to get there on time. Finally, you will find your spouse there patiently waiting in the reception area.
You join her in the lobby, but you don’t really want to be there. All you really want is to be home in comfortable clothes and have some meaningful time with your family.
With a more personalized “Netflix-like” approach, meeting a virtual advisor is a much smoother process. You can share your financial plan and other online portals to better explain financial strategies and concepts to you through virtual conference software. You can also share your screen if you need help logging into your 401k portal or have a question about a financial document. And of course you save time by reducing commuting and traffic jams.
Does virtual work save money?
The fees charged by financial advisors should be commensurate with the services provided. Does your advisor only offer asset management? Or do you work with a comprehensive fee-based financial planner who also offers comprehensive advice on financial planning? For example, a prospective retiree needs advice in addition to investments because retirement planning is complicated. They have other problems that they need solutions to:
- What Age can i retire?
- How much can we spend monthly without outlasting our fortunes?
- What is the best social security strategy?
- How do unforeseen health events affect our plan?
- What is the best investment strategy for us?
- How do we make Lower taxes in retirement?
The level of service and value offered therefore differ between financial advisors. Understanding your greatest needs is important to ensure you are getting the correct answers to your questions. And this is where a virtual financial advisor can really add a lot of value.
Does a Virtual Financial Advisor Offer Better Advice?
As consumers increasingly turn to web search engines for their shopping needs, more options become available. Search engines like Google are constantly trying to improve consumer web search results, and the financial planning profession is no different.
Gone are the days when you Googled “Financial Advisor Near Me” and selected a company on the first search results page. There are too many options and in most major cities there are hundreds or thousands of financial advisors ready to work with you. This is not an optimal way to find an advisor as you are casting too wide a net.
THE 3 MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISOR
If you are looking for unbiased advice on solving your specific problems, the 3 most important criteria when choosing a counselor are:
- Are they only chargeable? This means that their fees are paid directly by customers and not by third parties with whom a conflict of interest could arise.
- Are they experienced and credible? You may be looking for a consultant who is a CFP® because you need more help with financial planning. A minimum level of experience might also be a priority for you.
- What is your specialty? If you had back pain, you wouldn’t see an ophthalmologist and the same goes for choosing the right counselor.
From experience I can say that most consumers do not ask the third question, which is just as important as the first two. You want the best advice for your needs, so you need to find a financial partner who is familiar with your financial situation.
The global economy and ever-changing US tax laws make it too difficult for consultants to excel in every single area of financial planning, so most consultants are generalists.
The good news is that virtual financial advisors make it easier than ever to find the ideal financial partner. If you are open to a virtual relationship, your Google search results will give you greater numbers of consultants than SPECIALIZE in solving your problems.
When you cast a wider, more targeted net, not only can you catch more fish, but the fish you really want to catch too!
Is it safe to work with a virtual financial advisor?
Almost every American has an account with a major public finance institution. Whether it’s your bank, your credit card company, or your 401k provider, our sensitive personal information is out there. And when it comes to our finances, security is paramount.
The good news is that most databases containing this type of information have 256-bit encryption. This encryption supports the largest bit size and, based on the current computing power, is practically unbreakable thanks to brute force and thus the strongest encryption standard. Almost all financial technology software includes 256-bit encryption.
The other aspect of security is one physically Breach of your confidential information. Most virtual financial advisors save their financial documentation in digital format and rarely keep hard copies of your financial documentation around. This greatly reduces the chance of your information falling into the wrong hands.
Whether or not your financial advisor is virtual, you must trade your financial information with care and integrity. One thing you can do is run FINRA background check on the advisor for all red flags. FINRA is a not-for-profit organization that operates under the supervision of the SEC. They work actively with investors, member companies and political decision-makers and provide them with important tools.
How do I find a virtual financial advisor?
If you do a Google search for “Virtual Financial Advisor,” you will likely get more results than you want. We encourage you to add a specialty or expertise that you are looking for in your advisor. Here are some common specialty keywords that you can use to narrow your search:
- Generation XY
- Business planning
- University planning
- Tax planning
- Federal Employee (FERS)
- Government Employee (PERS)
- Stock option
Don’t forget to add the keywords “CFP, Certified Financial Planner, Fee-only” or other descriptive words. The goal is to further refine your search to create a better list of qualified candidates. If you’re looking for help with retirement planning, your Google search should look something like this …
Certified financial planner + retirement plan + virtual financial advisor
Another way to find an advisor is to trade with financial advisors and nonprofits. Most of these organizations advocate greater transparency and higher standards for financial advisors.
This helps ensure that advisors always act in good faith and that the interests of their clients always come first. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards regulates the prestigious name CFP®. You have a great database find a financial planner. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) also has one great search tool find a consultant by subject area.
Final thoughts on virtual financial advisors
The rapid pace of technological progress means that time is becoming a more and more valuable commodity. The information age has presented consumers with a plethora of options that are both convenient and time-saving. More and more consumers are streaming entertainment from their homes, having restaurants and groceries delivered, and even meeting their doctors virtually.
Investors now have better access to advisors who specialize in providing solutions to their specific needs. If you live in a smaller city, the added value is even greater by working with a virtual financial advisor.
Convenience and time savings are the icing on the cake. The more time you save commuting, waiting in a lobby, and finding a parking space, the more time you’ll have for the things you enjoy doing.
Finally, working with a virtual financial advisor reduces our carbon footprint through less driving and unnecessary paper documents.
About the author
Retirement requires decisions that will affect you for the rest of your life. So, first of all, we help our clients define what a fulfilling, deeply satisfying retirement looks like. Once you have complete clarity about what you want, we use our expertise and over 20 years of experience to help you coordinate your personal and financial decisions. There’s nothing worse than finding after retirement that your planning was incomplete. Let’s work together to ensure you enjoy the comfortable, confident retirement you deserve.
Did you know that XYPN consultants offer virtual services? You can work with clients in any state! Check out Danny’s Find an Advisor Profile.