Virtual financial advisors were around before the pandemic as video conferencing took off and opened new opportunities for advisors to serve clients. Then, during the pandemic, the number of virtual advisors went into overdrive as all advisors had to adapt. Now, as life as it is today, it appears that for some, they will stay virtual. At the same time, others, including most of the major corporate players, will go back to in-person. And then, there are the virtual and in-person advisors doing both as a hybrid approach. The summary is that virtual financial advisors are here to stay. People seeking an advisor now get one more choice in the type of advisor that is the best fit for them.
A virtual financial advisor is a financial advisor that works with clients remotely across the country. They may or may not have an office that clients can walk into. Instead, client meetings are executed via video conference programs which may include popular services such as Zoom or GoogleMeet. Besides the way virtual advisors conduct their meetings, they perform the same services as traditional advisors.
Here are the advantages in no particular order or weighting.
First, you don’t have to travel anywhere. Not traveling may be highly beneficial because you don’t deal with traffic and can take the time back you would have spent driving. Secondly, you can operate from the most convenient place at the time. Maybe you have a financial meeting after work at your office and the next time in your home. Three, you can choose an advisor located anywhere so you can find an advisor that is best for you. You’re not limited to only advisors in your small town or within a 10-mile radius of where you would be willing to travel. Four, if you move, you can easily continue to work with the online financial advisor. The alternative may be that your traditional advisor is now inconveniently in a different town or even further away in another state.
These are the drawbacks of working with a virtual financial advisor; we aren’t here to sugarcoat it.
One, no touch; while this seems like a silly drawback to list, some people enjoy a good handshake or receiving a hug after they mention to their advisor that they lost their spouse. The second and most obvious disadvantage is that you are looking and talking into your computer and don’t get the full in-person experience. Thirdly, you have to deal with technology, which can sometimes be frustrating.
If you want to work with a virtual financial advisor, then it is time to ask yourself if you are the right fit for that style of a financial advisor. This is who makes a good fit and will be the most successful working with a virtual advisor.
-Comfortable with technology and, in particular, with video conferencing. You don’t have to be an outright expert. Most video conferencing software is designed to be easy to use. However, virtual advisors aren’t teaching computer lessons and aren’t IT professionals that can troubleshoot all issues. Be prepared that both advisors and clients can expect hiccups from time to time with technology. Keep in mind that the real world also has hiccups like traffic jams and inclement weather when driving to an advisor’s office. So, choose your poison.
-Having a solid internet connection.
-Having a working video camera that isn’t your phone.
-Can create a quiet environment that’s private.
Finding a financial advisor who works remotely with clients is about the same process as finding a financial advisor in person. You can seek out referrals from your network or use a directory, and you can’t forget to search the web in general. In whatever way you do it, you need to specify or look for advisors that say they work remotely or virtually. Here are two directories you can consider, Wealthtender and Financial Planning Association. However, there are undoubtedly other directories you can use.
When it comes to the cost, you won’t find that you are out of pocket anymore. Additionally, you may find yourself saving a bit of money. For the most part, however, you can expect the same range as a traditional advisor. Of course, there are always many variables to what you may pay. For instance, if you go with a large corporation, you may not get a dedicated advisor but instead a call center of advisors, but this might be a cheaper option. Then you may have a boutique financial practice that may provide a more custom and personal experience but charge more. There are also several different models for how financial advisors charge, fee-only, fee-based, and commission-only. Fee-only advisors will then charge either hourly, by project, or ongoing flat fees. This isn’t the article to get too much more in the weeds than what is already mentioned. Still, you can start gaining further knowledge by reading Nerdwallet’s article.
If you seek a financial advisor, decide if a virtual financial advisor is right for you. They offer some great benefits but may only be the right fit for some. If you move forward with a virtual financial advisor, set up a consultation with a couple of advisors. Feel out and get the details on how each advisor operates. And don’t be afraid to ask further questions about fees if you don’t understand. Finally, set up a no-obligation discovery session with BlackBird Finance if you are ready to start finding a virtual advisor. Discover why we were one of Denver’s top financial advisors in 2022.