Financial planning is crucial for everyone, even those without finance backgrounds. But how do you know which options are the best for you? The Investment Coach is a group of chartered financial planners and offer independent financial advice for individuals, families and businesses. The UK-based company specialize in coaching and enter into collaborative processes with the clients to get them the best results.
This week we had a great discussion with Andrew Reeves, the director and founder of The Investment Coach. While new to Mikogo, Andrew provided very interesting insights into the tactics and benefits of finance coaching via desktop sharing. Read on below for the full discussion.
1. As a financial planner, how did you get into using Mikogo for desktop sharing? And what was your first impression?
Andrew Reeves, Director: I previously used another online meeting solution but then I started using Mikogo two weeks ago and found it to be a better solution for our purposes. The primary requirement that I was interested in was something that is dead simple for the client. The fact that the HTML Viewer allows the client to join without any downloads meant that when I used it for the first time, it took just 10 seconds for the client to join. It’s a very seamless process.
I’m still exploring the features, but I noticed the Whiteboard function – which certainly looks useful for our work. Also the fact that you can record the session is useful for our compliance files, such as our annual reviews.
2. Why do you think desktop sharing is important for your company and other financial planners?
While face-to-face situations are number one for meetings, you have to think of efficiency. If you have something important to show a client which will only take 5 minutes, traveling is not efficient. Talking face-to-face is nice but essentially you will lose half your day for 5 minutes of quality content. Instead you can deliver the same content off the bat with Mikogo and then move onto other clients.
In our industry you want to prevent cross subsidy. If clients pay higher fees they should receive better service. If that means more contact with these clients then you need a strategy for that and Mikogo helps us with this because it allows better quality of interaction than a regular phone call.
We’re also trying to be a green company so the price and use of fuel to travel is just not efficient for us.
3. The Investment Coach advises clients in making their financial decisions. How does desktop sharing fit into your company’s operations?
Mainly for coaching sessions. In our line of work we deal with Wrap accounts, which are aggregated views of all the clients investments and tax wrappers in one place where the client logs in online to access all their holdings. However not every client has used Wrap accounts before but with desktop sharing it’s very easy to walk them through this and point out the areas that will be most useful to them. The client also feeds into the process and tells us what is useful for them. By receiving their input live, Mikogo allows us to deliver a tailored service.
The Investment Coach is different from other independent advisors in that we’re more collaborative with clients. For example if a client is required to fill out some complicated application forms, with Mikogo I can make the presentation with the client to help them work through the forms – Mikogo is a fantastic training tool.
4. You mentioned Wrap accounts. What other materials do you present to clients via desktop sharing?
We also present software that shows life-time cash flow forecasts including interactive graphs of internal expenditure along with projected net worth. This is for independent financial advisors and with this we build up a collaborative plan with the client. We want to walk our clients through such software and Mikogo works brilliantly with this because you can compare different scenarios live on the screen.
5. The traditional form of meetings are face-to-face. But I assume this is not always possible?
We have clients across Europe and it’s not always possible for these clients to come to the UK so we need a solution for remote working. Likewise even for clients based in the UK because not everyone can travel all the time – so again there is a need for remote working.
6. In your line of work, I’m sure you have clients from a wide range of industries. How do you find Mikogo when you have to explain the software to non-techies?
The HTML viewer was the real revelation for me. I had a client meeting the next day and needed to make an online presentation, so I researched Mikogo and was preparing to use it with that client. Then during the client call I suggested we use Mikogo. They joined the session from their end and it worked perfectly. I barely explained anything to the client because it was very intuitive for them. Likewise for the client calls we’ve had since then.
7. Now that The Investment Coach has experienced Mikogo, for what purposes do you expect to be using the software in the future?
Face-to-face meetings will always be a part of our service for compliance reasons and to maintain the personal touch. But with Mikogo we can engage in coaching sessions more regularly which will maintain customer relations and help us deliver a high-quality service. Anything that is interactive is very valuable.
Using Mikogo is also more fun. People are used to talking to the financial planner over the phone, but they are a lot more engaged in the process when they can actually see what you are talking about. There have been phone calls which I made in the past, but for similar cases now I will switch to a Mikogo session.
8. What are the benefits you received thus far from desktop sharing?
The big driver for us is time. Mikogo is saving us a lot of time and this is what interests us. It’s not just good for our company but also for our clients. If I waste too much time with one client then I’m at risk of cross subsidization. For example if I spend time driving too far for one client for a half-hour meeting, then that time out of the office could have been spent dealing with other clients. On top of that, clients who I regularly drive far distances to will be invoiced higher yet receive the same coaching meetings. So using Mikogo keeps cross subsidy down, and it helps to ensure more efficiency as well as the best value for the advisory fee.
9. Do you adapt your approach to phone calls for the purposes of online meetings? If so, what advice do you have for other financial planners?
It’s all in the preparation and is a blend of having structure and free-flow to the meeting. You still need to prepare in the same way that you do for a normal phone call to ensure you have a structure – otherwise you will end up “rambling around your screen”. The client will get more value from a structured meeting. At the same time you need to be flexible depending on which way the client takes the meeting with their questions and comments. The key to a good online presentation is getting that balance right.
Furthermore if you’re demonstrating a finance software system, such as a Wrap account, you will lose credibility if you can’t explain the software properly to them when the client asks questions about what they can see via the desktop sharing. Answering such questions on the fly makes preparation so important.
At the same time this is a massive advantage because if you’re prepared and nail a live presentation this will build confidence on the client side – and they’ll only get that from a live presentation.
10. Discussing financial details can be nerve-wrecking for some. As a financial planner, I’m sure you want to reassure your clients that Mikogo is safe for sharing such info. How do you accomplish this?
Clearly security is a massive issue. Before I used Mikogo I researched the application. I particularly liked the fact that the clients didn’t have to download anything to join a session. I was also happy with what I saw on the Mikogo website and the fact that it had been recommended by third-parties.
From the clients’ point of view, I think they are less concerned about the software and more focused on the benefits to them – which is how it should be. As they will have met me personally, they know my mannerisms and style so they feel comfortable with a desktop sharing session.
11. At this point, The Investment Coach uses Mikogo for online coaching. Do you think there are other ways your company can use desktop sharing in the future?
I think desktop sharing will be useful for meetings with our accountant. We upload files to our Dropbox for the accountant to access but the amount of paper work can be confusing. So it’s going to be useful for us to use Mikogo to show them the processes and where all the documents are located. In other words this will be helpful for any kind of educational training.
12. Any final comments about your experience of Mikogo thus far?
I think with all these new web tools, if you pick out just one tool you don’t really leverage the benefits of the digital age we’re in. If you have a strategy with a number of tools then you really benefit from these tools because you can see where they fit in with the overall process. For example Mikogo is now part of our processes and I’m sure it will get used a lot more. And I think when you use a tool regularly, you get to know it better, you gain confidence in using it, and the benefits snowball from there.
Discussion: If you’re a financial planner and have any experience to add, please feel free to leave a comment below. Do you have similar experiences? Or if you use Mikogo in a different line of work, share your thoughts below!