Best Practices & Tips for Financial Advisors When Working with A VA

Working with a va

Building a team of virtual assistants is one of the best business decisions I ever made.

I was tired of the high costs associated with the traditional W2 employees and all of the hassle, heartache, and expenses that came with them.  So, I did something about it.  The following information is there to help you understand how to best build a team of virtual assistants and give you insight into how you should go about working with a VA.

Done right now only will it save you a ton of money (I was able to reduce my overhead expenses by ~61% because I embraced VAs) but it will propel your business to the next level.

The idea of working with virtual assistants has grown substantially in popularity over the last year, and with it the awareness around being able to run an entire business virtually. It was not always this way – the pandemic accelerated our adoption of working remotely.

I have been a protagonist of the virtual approach for years and, as a result, have much experience when it comes to working with a virtual team; I have ironed out the creases, so to speak.

As a virtual financial advisor, I have been through and tried it all, running my practice remotely for the past eight years – so here are the best practices and tips for building a successful working relationship between you and your VA.

working with a va tips

Be Realistic About Their Workload

One of the biggest mistakes financial advisors make when hiring a VA is expecting them to handle a permanent, full-time employees’ workload. VA’s usually charge per hour or task.

My advice is to be realistic about how much your VA can take on in terms of how many hours they will be working for you a month. Remember they are working for multiple clients, so be upfront with them and allow them to quote you, or at least be transparent about how much they can handle.

If you are paying them for ten hours a month, then do not expect more than that. If you do have more work for them, then you will have to pay for additional hours. They are part-time; remember that.

Train Them Thoroughly

Another aspect that financial advisors tend to overlook is the training of their virtual assistants. Yes, you will be able to find the right fit for your company in terms of experience, but that does not necessarily mean that the VA will be able to come in and be thrown in the deep end straight away.

It is essential to train them on your precise processes and allow them the time to get up to speed with your approach and methods of conducting business.

Do not Micromanage Them

VA’s are used to working alone, remotely, and you must give them the space to do so. Once they have a thorough understanding of your business, provide them with the responsibility; a sense of ownership. Brief them properly and let them run with it. That is the beauty of hiring virtual employees. They are self-starters by nature. This can be a massive asset to your business if managed properly – giving you the time to focus on what is important without having to baby them tirelessly.

dont micro manage when working with a va

Setup the Proper Infrastructure for Communication and Delegation when working with a VA

There is an overabundance of free tools available online for you to work seamlessly with your virtual assistant. Suppose you are willing to pay a subscription fee. In that case, there is also Office 365, which is the ultimate means for virtual collaboration, connection, and communication. You can quite smoothly run your entire financial planning practice using 365, Trello, or Asana (a personal favorite of mine).

There are Skype, Zoom, FreeConferenceCall, and Microsoft Teams for communication, which allows you to have one-on-one calls or even virtual stand-ups with your whole workforce.

So, be sure to do your research and pick the applications which are best suited to your service offering. Your virtual assistant would’ve probably have used most of them, so that should be an issue. Having the proper communication and task delegation infrastructure is critical to building successful relationships with your VA or virtual team.

Empower Them to Buy into The Business

Last but not least, showcase your ‘why.’ As with any hire, you need to communicate to them why working with you is important and beneficial.

Make sure they understand your “why”. Make sure they jive with your vibe. Make sure you like each other. Do not make them think you are always looking over their shoulder. Empower them to be their best, let them know it is OK to make mistakes, and they will want to continue working with you. They will emotionally invest in what you do.

In my virtual advisor system called Conneqtor, which is designed to equip you with all the tools and understanding necessary to run a successful virtual financial planning practice, I specifically teach on how to build a virtual team.

Learn how to run, market, and effectively grow your business in the digital world we live in – download our free eBook to learn more.

No matter your tenure as an advisor it is an almost certainty that you can save money and grow faster by embracing virtual assistants.  Mine have been with me for years and I consider them family.  They have my back, get things done, and are amazing people.  Done right, having a virtual team will be a game changer for your business.

Have questions?  Conneqt with me on LinkedIn and ask away!

Best Regards,

Derek Notman

The Perks of Permanency and Flexibility on the Remote Advisory Model

remote work model man working in nature

As I write this, almost 60% of the workforce in the United States of America has the option of remote work in their employment contracts. Workplace Analytics recently completed a survey and came up with the following forecast:

“Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.” – Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics

The whole world has had to adapt, and from a financial advisor’s perspective, this is hugely positive. For us, it means that we will cut down on costs dramatically, and we’ll be able to serve our clients when and how we (and they) want to.

When I refer to permanency, I am talking about the fact that you’ll be able to work from anywhere in the world, at any time of day, and for anyone you wish to, even if lockdowns continue indefinitely. A beach house? A cabin in the woods? Do you want to work in two different cities a year so that no matter what, it’s always summer? All good so long as you have a decent internet connection and the right infrastructure! The only thing I can think of that would stop you from working is a major technological shutdown, and if that happens well then, we all might as well just pack it in.

So, let’s look at some of the perks of the Remote Advisory Model.

Hiring New Staff Has Never Been Simpler

Communication is so easy to manage, given the tech at our fingertips. You can now hire staff at a cheaper rate, per hour and without having to fork out for any of their infrastructures. The remote advisory model has no geographic boundaries, meaning you can hire people from anywhere in the world.

Being able to hire international employees also means your virtual financial planning practice can run 24/7. If you have people representing your business in multiple time zones, your profits will increase exponentially.

remote model virtual recruitment

Remote work models increase productivity

Another reference from that Workplace Analytics article suggests that remote workers produce 43% more output than their 9-5 counterparts. So not only can your business grow significantly, but you’ll also have a much more productive team working for you. Oh, did I mention that your employees will be a lot happier too? By embracing the remote advisory model, you’re promoting a healthy work/life balance.

The same goes for you too!

A Healthy Work/Life Balance

You can now maintain a greater balance between your personal life and your responsibilities as a business owner.

Rather than having to work all day and visit clients in the evening after hours at their homes, you are freeing up your time to focus on other things that interest you. Have you always wanted to renovate a boat? Do you want to pursue a passion project or even spend time with your kids in the afternoons? Well, now you can – it’s all about time management.

working remotely has this dad enjoying time with his child in the autumn leaves

Being genuinely flexible allows you to live a fuller, more rewarding life.

Furthermore, a flexible schedule lowers stress and strengthens your output.

Retaining Employees Is No Longer an Issue

With the remote work model, you don’t have to have a single permanent employee if you don’t want to. You can quite literally run a business with a freelance workforce. Think about how expensive your hiring process is. With all of the online platforms for hiring freelancers now available, you cut those costs entirely. You pay per hour, per task, or project – no strings attached.

In fact, hiring freelancers is highly cost-effective as you only pay for their services. Are you looking for an expert in something out of your experience? No problem – you can find any professional online.

There’s another added benefit here – a truly diverse team.

More Creativity

When you bring a group of people together who have unique perspectives and backgrounds, it results in a more innovative workforce. If you have an idea, you can brainstorm with your team members, and receive much fascinating insight from them.

Think about how different the perspective of a junior financial advisor from California is to that of a digital marketer from Amsterdam, for instance? A diversified team can only be a positive step forward for your practice.

Technology to Better Serve Your Ideal Client

From building an easy-to-navigate website to promoting your services online, anything is possible in the digital age. You can even embed code into your website that syncs with your calendar to allow clients to book their own appointments. Your online presence becomes your new overhead cost (investment), and it’s a whole lot cheaper than office space and continuous travel expenses.

You’ll need to invest in software and perhaps a team of expert individuals to take your digital footprint to the next level. Fear not; it will most definitely result in more lead conversions.

A Fraction of The Cost

You won’t have to pay for electricity, water, office supplies, or furniture with the remote advisory model. You won’t have to pay for employee benefits or travel either.

It’s a no-brainer!  Haven’t read our Virtual Proclamation eBook yet?  Get it here for free and find out how you can start migrating to a fully remote financial practice today.

I hope you enjoyed reading this!

Kind regards,

Derek Notman

Remote Work in the Time of Corona

remote work for financial advisors

As I briefly covered in my last article, remote work is the way to go during this global pandemic. COVID-19 has shown us that working from home is possible for multiple industries and businesses. All you really need is the right infrastructure and digital footprint and the world is your oyster!

I’ve been a Virtual Financial Advisor for 6+ years now and have found so many benefits to working online. Adapting my brick and mortar approach to the online space has made my business flourish.

According to Forbes, some studies show that there has been a drop in productivity as the world embraces the remote work model, but this is because we’re amid a pandemic and because friends and family are at home with you. At this moment, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, scared, and even distracted.

There are ways to get around this, though. Here are some tips for staying productive if you are new to remote work.

3 simple tips for remote work

  1. If you’re doing administrative work, try to add a deliberate distraction. For instance, listening to classical music with headphones. By blocking yourself out from the rest of the world (and your family), you can get a lot more done. Or even better, outsource it to a virtual assistance who probably can do it better than you and is a fraction of the cost of hiring a traditional staff member.
  2. Take a moment or two throughout the day to get lost in your thoughts – something unrelated to the task at hand; this is known to refresh focus – like stepping outside the office for 5 minutes. Take a brisk walk to get the blood flowing, take in some deep breaths of fresh air, and then get back to work and crush it!
  3. Another way to take a break and boost activity is by making yourself a cup of your favorite brew. Taking a coffee break isn’t just about taking a few minutes away from your work task, but caffeine actually improves physiological arousal and less inclination to be distracted.

Now that you know how to be more productive and maintain your concentration levels while working from home let us look at some of the benefits of remote work.

how to work remotely from anywhere

4 Benefits of remote work

In the financial services industry, more and more financial advisors are embracing the remote (virtual) model as clients’ needs, wants, and expectations change with the times.

There are many benefits to remote work, here are 4 reasons:

1.   You’ll save on fixed expenses

You will save a considerable amount by not having to pay for the fixed costs that usually come with running a traditional brick & mortar financial planning practice. Think office space, employee salaries and of course, commuting to meet with clients. These savings (amounting to thousands of dollars a month) can be reinvested into your business through more budget for marketing, or even be profit in your pocket!

2.   You can meet with clients anywhere in the world, for free

Yip, that’s right! There are countless free online apps for video conferencing, and with remote work, you can meet with your clients regardless of their location. As a result, you expand your reach into a global market – giving you the opportunity to make more money and gain more experience regardless of your physical location or theirs!

3.   You can work on your own time

When running a traditional office space, you usually have to be there from open to close. The beauty of remote work is that you can run your own schedule, affording yourself a better life/work balance in the process. It also means that you choose when to serve your clients. If you have something personal to attend to, or simply feel like going for a jog, or surf, you can.

4.   There are brilliant online tools that facilitate remote work

From Skype, G Suite, and FreeConferenceCall, to Conneqtor and Trello, there are incredible tools and systems to help you take your financial planning practice online. You can communicate, stay organized, and thrive by using the right tools for you.

So, besides the fact that we’re going through difficult times at the moment, remote work makes sense in general.  It did before the pandemic and will after. The tools are available, and it’s what the new generation of clients require.

BONUS BENEFIT: Internet speed and connectivity is everything. As we begin to invest more time in building our digital footprint and building client relationships online, we need to have a reliable internet connection. This great article by Consumers Advocate gives you the best internet providers based on in-depth reviews.

Will you be left behind, or embrace working remotely and become more successful and happier than you’ve ever been?

If you’d like more insight on how to become a Virtual Financial Advisor, get in touch with us at Conneqtor, or download our free e-book for an introduction on how our virtual advisor system can help you take your business online.

work from anywhere in the world with these online tools

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Derek

The Age of The Virtual Financial Advisor and COVID-19

The Age of The Virtual Financial Advisor and COVID-19

As we wrestle with a new way of life or try our best to adapt, one thing we have already learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that many industries can operate remotely.

That’s the thing, with all that is happening in the world, time stands still for no one, and we now have to look at alternative ways to carry on with life, to make a living, but most of all to do everything we can to get through this together.

I like to think of myself as a bit of a pioneer as I embraced operating virtually some time ago already, and I can confidently say that running a virtual financial practice is a viable option in these trying times.

Up until a few years ago, financial planning was mostly based around face-to-face meetings, sitting across from clients, and providing them with financial planning and investment advice.

From client acquisition to client retention, building relationships was done in-person. Now, as we find ourselves amidst a global pandemic, this way of work is no longer possible.

Even when COVID-19 is one day behind us, meeting face-to-face will still seem like an unnecessary aspect of our role in people’s lives. Why would we need to? The rise of technology is creating a new service model for financial planning – the virtual financial advisor.

After transforming my company, Intrepid Wealth Partners, from a financial practice of the old mold into a fully functioning virtual financial practice, I noticed that every part of a financial planner’s role could be fulfilled online.

It makes total sense to use web-based tools and technology to serve clients. In fact, it opens you up to an international client base, because the location doesn’t matter. Further to this, there are huge cost savings, and my work has become more efficient due to the use of incredible technology.

In this article, I’m going to give you an overview of how to build a financial planning practice online. I will highlight the benefits of remote work, not only in the time of Corona but in the 2020s, and I will give you insight into some of the brilliant online tools you can use to make it happen.

Let’s start with the benefits of remote work.

Remote work in the time of Corona and beyond

remote worker

Before we get into building a financial practice online, let’s look at why remote work is the future of many industries, why it’s so beneficial and easy to embrace.

Firstly, remote work affords you the time to focus on yourself and your family a bit more than when running a traditional financial practice.

Secondly, most people love the idea of remote work because it means freedom to run your own schedule; it means being able to get the job done in your own time. Gone are the days of a standard 9-5, 5 days a week way of working. But thirdly, and most importantly, it means that work does not need to be done in a specific place to be executed successfully, which is perfect for serving new-age clientele like millennials generation z.

So, how does this impact the financial planning industry?

Picture this: instead of commuting to an office each day to work from a designated desk, you can execute your projects and design your days so that you can obtain and maintain an awesome life/work balance. In essence, it also makes it a lot more affordable to start your own financial planning practice. With remote work comes a substantial decrease in fixed expenses—the main ones being office space, in-house staff, and money spent on commuting.

You can choose to go forward as a one-person operation, cutting costs significantly, or you can employ people on a part-time basis, virtually, of course! The beauty of remote work is that you only work on-demand, which extends to your employees too. If you only need someone for a few hours a day, then this new way of work has made that possible. You no longer need to commit to giving people full-time employment; you can pay them on an hourly basis.

According to Flexjobs, an employer can save $22,000 per remote worker per year.

So, let’s look a little deeper at how the benefits of remote work will add value to building a successful online business.

Less time commuting

women and men on train platform

Being a virtual financial advisor means less time and money spent commuting, which means you can spend more money on building a stronger, more efficient service, and spend more money on marketing your services. This way, you can surely spend at least 10% of your gross revenue on digital marketing.

Think about how much time you can save as well. For example, let’s say you spend 1 hour a day in the car (driving to and from your office and client meetings), you do this 5 days a week, and you do this 50 weeks a year. Add it all up, and it equals approximately 250 hours a year in the driver’s seat. That is the same as 6.25 40-hour workweeks a year.

Think about this, over 6 40-hour workweeks a year; you are wasting time sitting in your car, that’s crazy!

Think about how much money you spend on gas or even domestic flights to meet with clients in-person, never mind what you spend on accommodation when meeting with clients in other cities? That sum can now go into client acquisition. Plus, marketing a virtual service is much more attractive to younger generations than the brick and mortar financial planning services.

Not having to pay for office space

Ok, so this is a big one. Arguably the most expensive part of running a company is renting office space to accommodate yourself and your employees.

By going virtual, you won’t have to consider the following:

  • Private kitchen
  • 24-hour access
  • Lounge area
  • Meeting rooms
  • Video conferencing
  • Parking
  • Janitorial services
  • Technology for employees such as computers, cellphones, and the internet

As you may know from experience, the price of renting office space varies. An office space per person can start around $300 per month in the US and goes up drastically depending on location and the facilities included.

By working remotely, the money you would have spent on office space can either go directly back into your business, your pocket or even just renting a smaller office for only you. The reality is that one of the first things that cripple a business when money is a little tight is not being able to pay overheads, such as employee salaries and office space.

With remote work, and more specifically by being a virtual financial advisor, you won’t have to worry about any of the above. Yet, you will still be able to deliver the same, if not more efficient and tailored service to your clients.

It quite literally is a win-win option for the future of your business.

Using the tech available to provide better service

Remote work is impossible without the incredible technology available at the click of a button or the swipe of a finger. Technology is what makes being a virtual financial advisor viable.

Here in the US, our Wi-Fi connections and internet infrastructure are the best in the world, so staying connected shouldn’t even be a concern. It is also very affordable.

Thanks to smartphones, cloud computing, instant messaging, and project management software, we can communicate and collaborate instantaneously from most anywhere in the world.

By getting your hands on the necessary technology to operate a virtual financial practice, and keeping up to date with the latest tools, there is nothing that can stop you from being successful.

This leads me to the next step in getting your head around how to build a financial practice online.

Online tools you can use to embrace remote work

virtual financial advisor on a video call

Before we get into some of the spectacular tools available, it is essential to remember that as a virtual financial advisor, you are not changing the advice and services you provide to your clientele. All you are doing is changing the way you communicate with prospects and clients; you are swapping out the kitchen table for a webcam, same advice, and relationship, different medium.

To take your financial planning practice online successfully, all you need to do is convert the brick and mortar way of communicating to a new way of maintaining relationships. You will then need to support this way of communicating with online tools to help you provide your services virtually.

So, let’s look at how you would conduct meetings virtually.

All your meetings are done over means of video chat, and here are some of the most popular tools for communication.

FreeConferenceCall

FreeConferenceCall is a really great tool that I use as my primary virtual meeting tool.

It is easy for me to set up and easy for my clients to click a link and join a meeting. It allows for multiple participants and does not cut the meeting off after a certain amount of time. I can screen share and even give the client control if they want to show me something on their computer. What is also nice is that if for some reason, a client can’t join via a computer, this service also has a call-in number so people can still be part of the conversation.

By far, this is my favorite virtual meeting tool. And yes, as the name implies, it is free!

Skype

You’ve probably used Skype before. As the original video conferencing software, it is the most well-known and widely accepted tool. With Skype, you can make free online calls, use free messaging, and very affordable international calling to mobiles or landlines. What we love most about this tool, though, is it’s Skype for Business feature – the best tool for internal online communication.

So, if you were to build a virtual team in the future, this feature combines instant messaging, video conferencing, calling, and document collaboration into a single, integrated app for effective collaboration.

Zoom

Zoom is excellent for external communication outside of your company. Zoom offers a full-featured Basic Plan for free with unlimited meetings, and there is no trial period. Just keep in mind that the basic plan has a 40 minutes time limit on meetings with three or more total participants. If you decide to pay for it (recommended), you can conduct meetings for as long as you like – perfect for that initial meeting with new clients.

The beauty with Zoom is that you can schedule meetings well in advance and send the exclusive meeting link straight to your clients, or if you have Office 365, you can send them a calendar invite, which automatically syncs with their calendar on their smartphone.

Skype and Zoom are the most widely accepted tools for video communication. Still, you will probably find that for younger clients, FaceTime or a WhatsApp voice call will also work, especially for check-in meetings.

Any other client communication can be done over email or even short video messages via cool tools like Loom.

At the end of the day, as long as both you and your client have a decent internet connection, you can conduct a video meeting with a client – whether it’s from a home office, or even on vacation if needs be.

This way, you can build a business around your life and not the other way around.

Now, let’s look at some of the online tools available for doing the actual work of a financial planner.

Office 365

When it comes to writing and compiling documents, crunching numbers, or creating a presentation, I recommend Office 365 simply because you won’t have to adapt too much. It’s an online version of all of the administrative tools that would usually come with a Windows PC or laptop.

It includes MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and more, but what makes it truly valuable is that it’s a brilliant collaboration tool for remote teams. You can have up to five members on one subscription, and with that comes an all-inclusive, synchronized suite for running the administrative side of any business. From email and Skype for Business to OneDrive – which makes the work you do available to you from anywhere—and to others when you collaborate or share. With a subscription, you are also able to download all the apps to your desktops for those that prefer working offline and uploading later.

To understand the extent of what you can do with Office 365, read this in-depth article – there’s a whole lot.

Conneqtor – The Virtual Advisor System

Now that I’ve explained the benefits of remote work and taking your financial planning practice online, ask yourself this: are you ready to join fellow entrepreneurs in the virtual movement of the future?

Conneqtor empowers financial advisors like you to have the ability to:

  • Exponentially make more money while effectively managing risk
  • Work with more prominent and more ideal clientele
  • Work from anywhere in the world while expanding your reach
  • Leverage your time & money to increase performance
  • Live the life of your dreams while helping your clients do the same
  • Achieve and maintain a remarkable life/work balance

I’ve created a turn-key system designed to show you (step-by-step) how to transform your business in a digital world. If you’re wondering what infrastructure you will need to run a virtual financial practice, then this system is your answer.

Conneqtor includes comprehensive guides on the following crucial factors for a successful virtual financial advisor:

  • How to market your virtual financial planning business online
  • How to build a virtual team
  • How to work with your compliance team
  • How to define and vet your “ideal client”
  • How to create an online presence that will drive inbound leads to you 24/7

The new world of work is right before your eyes and at your fingertips, will you take the opportunity? Download our free e-book to find out more.

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Derek