“There are not enough hours in the day,” is a common refrain, and for many of us, the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. The rise in e-presenteeism from remote working, the shift to the “always on” mentality of consumer communications, and the commercial pressure to “bounce back” has presented a triple threat that is leaving many advisors both stressed and burned out.
How can financial professionals ensure the client experience and bottom-line does not suffer, particularly when demand for their counsel and attention is so high?
The financial planning team at True Wealth Design found themselves multi-tasking beyond what they felt was good for performance when the phones were ringing off the hook. With five offices across three states providing expertise in retirement, tax, and investment planning, the firm’s clients wanted to “get through to someone on the phone.”
However, with as many as 300 solicitation calls coming in each month, the attention required to manage the phone was making it difficult for staff to maintain focus and maximize client results. Research from the University of California at Irving has shown that, on average, it takes around 23 minutes to get back on task after an interruption. People don’t pay accountants high hourly rates to be answering the phone, or worse, distracted. One client we work with talked about his first job at Ernst & Young where, when staying late to get work done, he would be left answering calls, a poor use of his time and training.
The truth is, clients never stop thinking about their money, which is why financial professionals get calls from clients at all times of the day, especially when stress levels are high. In the 24/7 age, consumers do not feel the constraints of traditional 9 to 5 office hours and will reach-out to professionals any time, day or night. This is where outsourced calls can really help, eliminating the worry of providing round-the-clock in-house resources and allowing firms to offer a consistent 24/7 service.
Some firms are even shifting their client contact narrative to also include Live Chat. Consumers are increasingly familiar with instant messaging and have grown to expect immediacy and efficiency in response. In these cases, Live Chat is a powerful differentiator that can help brokerages show themselves as modern, accessible and relatable while also providing a useful way to triage inquiries and keep unnecessary volumes away from the phones. Employing the communications channels that clients and prospects already use, firms will improve their relevance, creating a valuable point of difference, and take customer care pressure off of their highly trained professionals.
But, client contact is not the only aspect of business that firms are outsourcing. Laurence Whittam of QX Global Group, which provides finance, accounting and recruitment outsourcing solutions, says their clients are not only challenged with manning the business they have, but that firms are also dealing with a severe talent shortage due to the demographic time bomb currently exploding.
“The vacuum created will not be getting filled by new accounting graduates as fewer Gen Z grads are entering the profession,” said Whittam. “In fact, many accounting professionals are already leaving the profession due to inherent issues with work-life balance, which is a double whammy. The lower bottom to mid-level of the organizational pyramid will increasingly be filled in via outsourcing and automation.”
The paradigm shift that remote work and distributed teams can be successful, if not more efficient, has cleared the way for outsourcing as a business strategy. Accounting firms that are already outsourcing are going to be doubling down on their current investments, which will also eventually cause a talent crunch in the outsourcing world.
Striking a balance between a culture of wellbeing, commercial success and loyal clients is the only way to future-proof business and protect your mental health in a post-pandemic world. There are only 24 hours in a day – use them wisely and you’ll reap the rewards, financially and emotionally.