Is it possible to have just as good an interaction with a client via a virtual meeting as one in the same room as them? This was a hotly debated subject before Covid-19 gave us all a first-hand crash course on the subject. When it’s the only way to meet, it’s remarkable how quickly we can all adapt.
Many firms I talk to are keen to ensure they continue with the many benefits of virtual meetings even once life returns to whatever the ‘new normal’ will be. Virtual meetings can be more cost-effective both by removing the need for travel time and because sessions are frequently shorter. The environmental benefits are also significant.
If you are going to keep some form of virtual meeting capacity are solutions like Zoom and Microsoft Teams the right answer? Or is it worth investing in one of the specialist solutions designed for financial services? Products like Glia, SuiteBox, Vizolution and Unblu have all been designed as unified communication platforms for advisers to engage remotely with clients. The objective is to deliver a more consistent experience and also to deliver compliance benefits by tighter integration and record keeping.
This month I want to look at one of these options, Glia. This analysis is based on the version that comes bundled with Intelliflo’s Intelligent Office software. This means over a third of the IFA community already have access to it as part of their practice management system. Glia can be accessed by any adviser firm that has adopted the free Personal Finance Portal software also provided as part of Intelligent Office.
Users can download the Glia software from the iO store. The first licence is free. The cost of additional users has recently been reduced from
£35 per month to £15. It is important to note that currently the adviser capability within Glia only operates via a Chrome browser although the client can use any browser or device they choose including tablets and mobile phones, in addition to normal computers.
With Glia advisers do not have to send the client a link to use as with most virtual meeting systems. The adviser simply agrees with the client that they will visit the adviser firm’s Personal Finance Portal at a given time and the adviser can see the client is there and connect with them. A client can actually have a meeting with an adviser even if they are not yet a registered user of Personal Finance Portal.
If a client visits the adviser’s Personal Finance Portal area at any time and wants to talk to their adviser they can clicking on the ‘Let’s Talk’ button. This will let the client know who at the advice firm is free to talk to them. Such communication can be via video, computer audio, phone or chat. Users can configure how they wish to be available, disabling some of the options as they wish. The system can also be turned off for long or short periods for other meetings, meal or coffee breaks etc.
From the adviser’s system they can see who is on their PFP website and send an invite to the client’s browser to start the session. As well as offering virtual meetings the system allows co-browsing so the adviser can show the client how they can use their personal finance portal. An icon appears on advisers screen to make it clear they are sharing their screen.
The real difference in using a system like Glia is going to be the way in which it can tie deeply into a firm’s compliance processes. As soon as the client call has finished, a transcript of any chat and the audio are automatically populated to the client’s record in Intelligent Office. This can also be converted to an MP4 Audio file and sent to the client.
If you are an Intelliflo user, it really makes sense to use this system as much as possible for the compliance benefits. Users of other practice management systems should look for their suppliers to offer similar capabilities. The only major shortcoming I see with the system is that currently it cannot create or store video of either the meeting or any related screen share activity. Until very recently I did not think this would be a problem, but it is probably something that should be reviewed although it would create a lot of large files to store.
Interestingly use of Personal Finance Portal has increased by 333 per cent since the start of lockdown and adoption of Glia by Intelliflo users is up 589 per cent, so clearly many users agree with my conclusions.