Coronavirus driving business change
Cranleigh is one of the several villages that claim the title “largest village in England”.
It nestles at the foot of the Surrey Hills from which you can see as far south as the South Downs.
Sadly, we have no railway station and the roads out of the centre of Cranleigh are B roads, a couple of which have single traffic passing points.
The nearest mainline railway station is Guildford some 8 miles away, and the nearest A road about 1 ½ miles away and that is single carriageway.
I mention all this because if we leave our office to see a client in London or perhaps in one of the south coast towns, or Hampshire, for example, we can be talking about a 1 to 1 ½ hour car journey each way.
During the current coronavirus crisis, we have determined that we shouldn’t make the situation worse by potentially spreading the virus to our clients and other professionals with whom we work.
We have decided to stop all face to face client meetings and instead use technology to ensure that we keep in touch and deliver the financial planning advice to our clients.
Yesterday we used an online video conferencing service called Zoom to deliver a full Financial Planning experience to two of our clients. This presentation involved multiple lifetime cash flow forecasts as well as a process we refer to as “what if?” scenarios.
These scenarios are where the client asks us to demonstrate the financial consequences of changes to their current or future circumstances.
What if we were to retire early? What if we received an inheritance? What if we helped our children onto the property ladder with a gift of capital?
We ran through these what-if scenarios with our clients who could see on their computer screen at precisely what we were looking. So instead of sitting at their kitchen table with them, drinking tea as we usually do, we were in Cranleigh, and they were in their home in Hove.
I have to say I prefer face to face meetings they are so much more sociable, but video conferencing is very efficient and effective.
It remains a two-way experience with the clients asking questions and watching on screen as we made adjustments to their plan.
What it did achieve was save 2 ½ hours of travel and the time and cost, and dare I say it the pollution that means.
In terms of the quality of the experience, it was highly productive from our clients perspective as well.
I do wonder if many businesses like ours will take away a learning experience from the current crisis about better use of technology? We certainly will.