Unified communications advice financial advisors should heed

Telecommuting hasn’t been welcomed by the majority of firms to date, but advances in UCaaS may change that. Advocis Windsor chapter president Aaron Keogh offers his perspective

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Meet the anytime, anywhere financial advisor. Or at least the possibility of one.

In the past, financial services firms tended to shy away from telecommuting strategies, since face time with clients is a critical component of the job. And finance is a heavily regulated industry with strict requirements around data privacy and security.

According to a 2010-11 survey by the Financial Planning Association in the U.S., only 21.5 per cent of financial services firm offer telecommuting to employees (and more so by larger firms).

The reality is, back in the day (which is really only a few years ago), telecommuting was a bit of a pain, both for IT departments and the teleworkers themselves. The technology was complex and usually involved a hodge-podge of individual tools and applications that weren’t designed to work together.

That’s no longer the case. Unified communications, videoconferencing, mobile computing and the cloud have advanced to the point where organizations can see real benefits from a telecommuting strategy.

UCaaS, in particular, offers a quantum leap forward for teleworkers, tying together phone and data services with audio, video and web conferencing on mobile and even BYOD devices. Teleworkers can now securely access enterprise apps right on their phone.

Despite the advantages of these disruptive technologies, why would financial advisors suddenly be interested in telecommuting? After all, they still require face-to-face interactions with clients. And, being in the heavily regulated financial services industry, they need secure access to client data in corporate databases.

On the other hand, many financial advisors end up working from home or on the road, regardless of whether their firm has an official telecommuting strategy. Like many workers these days, they rarely work a 9-to-5 workday — they may need to meet with a client at their home or outside of regular work hours.

For financial advisor Aaron R. Keogh, technology has changed the way he conducts his practice. Keogh, president of Greendoor Financial Inc. and president of Advocis (the Financial Advisors Association of Canada) in Windsor, Ont., chooses to go into the office nearly every day. But he also has a home and mobile office.

“I’m headquartered in Windsor but I also have clients in Toronto and Ottawa, and a great many places in between,” he says. While he still conducts in-person meetings, which he says is essential to building trust with clients, he’s been able to expand his business through technology.

“Technology is giving us the flexibility to choose how we want to conduct our business,” he says. For him, it offers the ability to remain productive on the road. He also sees videoconferencing as a useful tool for learning about clients and market trends. “If I’m learning about a particular company’s investment products, I might join a conference (on) that.”

Over time, we’ll likely see a greater number of financial advisors use UCaaS even more strategically. Even today, UC and videoconferencing tools could allow financial advisors to have virtual “face-to-face” meetings with clients and colleagues anytime, anywhere. The tools are much easier to use (often intuitive), and the audio and video quality of even low-cost solutions far surpass technologies of the past. Oh, and they provide enterprise-grade security, too.

Add cloud to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for productivity, collaboration and innovation. Or, as a financial advisor might put it, the justification for some smart, long-term investments.

Learn more by registering for the Webinar, ‘Introducing Allstream’s Hosted Collaboration Solution.’

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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