The COVID-19 lockdown has forced the hand of some financial advisers to adopt systems so clients can sign agreements using their computer, tablet or smartphone.

There are a few options available, from simple ‘accept-and-click’ emails to more comprehensive products that allow for client consultations via video along with real-time sharing of documents.

One advisor who has started using digital signatures to get business done is Bruce Cortesi, the Director of Planwise in Tauranga.

“We have emailed documents to clients that they have signed on their tablets and then sent back,” he says. “Clients seem quite comfortable with it. It will change how we do business going forward – it’s definitely a time saver.”

Meanwhile, Dean Logan, Managing Director and a financial adviser at Logan Smythe in Christchurch, has adopted the VideoSign system (previously known as SuiteBox).

A sudden event such as COVID-19 forces change…

He says while he and his team of four financial advisers already knew of the cloud-based app, there hadn’t been a compelling reason to use it – until COVID-19 came along.

“A sudden event such as the lockdown forces change,” he says. “You either stand there not doing anything, or you embrace change and find a way through it.

“Ironically, when we had our annual review at the start of the year we discussed using more technology and working to become more efficient – so as soon as we went into lockdown we already had an idea as to what to do next.”

Logan and his team have three steps before changing company processes:

  1. Fully understand the advice process
  2. Establish where any new technology fits into that process
  3. Practice makes perfect

He says some people make the mistake of trying to make a tool fit their advice process rather than the process fit the tool.

Even though some clients say they are not very tech-savvy, they have been great…

“And then you risk losing what you are trying to achieve,” he says. “Whenever I see a new tool in the market that appears to be more efficient, I have to understand the whole process, because it doesn’t do the work for you. But if you understand the tool you will become more efficient.”

Logan’s team experimented with the VideoSign system on each other so they fully understood how it worked – before asking their clients to use it.

“That means staff training and repetition,” he says. “And that’s what we have done with our team – from day one of the lockdown we scheduled training. And we have done so many practices with each other using these tools that we are efficient when we engage with the client.”

Dean Logan, a director and financial adviser at Logan Smythe in Christchurch,
Dean Logan, Managing Director and a financial adviser at Logan Smythe, Christchurch.
Logan says clients are happy to use the system, particularly under lockdown, and also appreciate the time-saving benefits it offers.

“Even though some clients say they are not very tech-savvy, they have been great and embraced it,” says Logan.

There is a little bit of hand-holding though, he says. That means advisers will speak with clients on the phone to check what device they have, then the adviser will send a meeting invite via email to set up a test or trial run with them. Once any technical issues are ironed out then a formal meeting is scheduled between the adviser and client.

“During the meeting we are chatting face-to-face, like a Skype meeting, and sharing documents on screen,” says Logan. “Clients can sign the document with their mouse while you watch. There is a finalisation process, a screen photo is taken, and that is date stamped. It is legally-binding.”

Logan says the system is convenient and time-saving for everyone.

“We won’t need to drive for an hour to see a client once lockdown ends – and it saves our clients lots of time too. Everyone’s busy these days, this is just so efficient.”

Published on Risk Info NZ
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