The markets are in turmoil, there are no sports to distract us. Clients are afraid of losing their jobs and homes, small businesses are in trouble.
Instead of trying to blow smoke up your arse and make you feel better, I am just going to post a bunch of ideas to help your business during this. Many of these are productivity tools I use regularly to either make it easier for my clients or to hedge against snowstorms and other disruptions that are beyond our control.
First, remote work is the way of life. In the old days (early 2000’s when we had the Dot.com bubble burst and a recession and war and all that we have today, minus the technology) I did well over half of my business via telephone and Fedex. That’s right, I had to have my analysis done and printed to ship three business days before a meeting, with the accompanying costs and time delays if there were any alterations needed. Then I would have a phone to communicate with the client. As you know, only about 7% of communication is verbal, 90% visual, spatial, touch, etc. Yet I still was MDRT level with these constraints. With the tech innovations of the past decade for video conferencing, companies allowing you to email things to clients, screen sharing, and electronic forms/signatures you can capture the vast majority of the in person experience for any particular meeting. Do this immediately.
1. https://zoom.us/ Online video presentation/webinar tool.
2. https://www.gotomeeting.com/ Another good remote meeting tool.
3. https://www.freeconferencecall.com/ For small to mid-sized groups of audio only. I have used this for calls with 3-10 people for years.
The screen sharing functions of the first two will allow you to do powerpoints, let clients observe (but not have) documents, and you can use Google’s Jamboard to draw pics like you would on a white board in your office. Combining these tools can allow almost every financial advisor to work from home.
Add to these DocuSign and you can do almost everything you could do in the office. Check with your company for their requirements.
Note: once this pandemic is over, keep using these tools as you will be more productive as moving molecules around on roads is less efficient than moving electrons over circuitry. Working from the lake on a Friday sounds pretty good…
Secondly, be flexible. If a client needs to move a 6:30 am appointment and lets you know at 5:14 am (no, that didn’t happen to me this morning, honest!) roll with it. As much as I try to exert control over my calendar and company, I know my limitations. Be as the Stoics say: control what you can control, adjust to and accept that which is beyond you. A virus disrupting China then Europe and the US is definitely in the latter category.
Third, maintain discipline. Work from home does not mean sleep in every morning. Even if your kids are home because their school is closed for five weeks (like mine), that doesn’t mean a Wednesday isn’t a school day. They still have to get up at a reasonable time (not 6:15 anymore but not noon either), read and do math and science and get physical activity every day. Get up, do your workout and feed your brain as always. Shower, shave. Put on a tie and jacket even if you are audio only with clients. The process of prepping each day will help calm your nerves and preserve some of your professionality instead of letting you deteriorate into an unshaven subhuman like my engineering friends become when they work from home.
Fourth, get OUT when you can. A five minute walk around the block while maintaining the 6′ distance. A few minutes on the porch enjoying the sun, or the sound of the rain hitting the street. Outdoor yoga. Avoid going stircrazy, and remember that sunlight is a natural disinfectant that kills germs and strengthens your soul.
Fifth and most important: maintain relationships. OK, we couldn’t go to the pub for St. Patrick’s Day or have a dinner party with our friends. Call all of your clients to check on them, beyond what is needed in a volatile stock market. Ask how they are doing emotionally and really listen to them. Call your family. Text your BFF. Post good pictures to Facebook and participate in forums on LinkedIn. Physical separation should not result in emotional disconnection.
I will be adding additional resources as addendums to this post as appropriate. Please send me ideas or tools you use so we can all get through this together.
LifeSize is another video conferencing tool we have used. I have known the CTO for 30 years and he knows his stuff, they have built a wickedly strong platform.