#WCW: Kate Holmes on Being a Virtual Advisor

This week I had the opportunity to speak with NextGen advisor Kate Holmes, who runs her business completely virtually, utilizing programs like Skype and Facetime to quickly and easily meet with clients from anywhere. Kate gave me the full scoop on how virtual meetings have allowed her to grow her business, and even shared some tips on how to begin incorporating virtual meetings into an existing practice. Check out our interview below.

As a NextGen advisor, how do you approach financial planning differently?

One of my big things is when I’m first talking with prospects, I spend a lot of time talking with them about when they are happiest. A lot of people get stuck thinking about where they should be in life, just going through and checking off the boxes. But I want my clients to tell me about what they really want their life to look like. I believe one of our biggest roles as advisors is helping clients figure this out.

What role do you think technology has played in your ability to grow your business?

It’s been everything. It’s 100% of my business. I travel all over the world, and technology lets me continuously do my business from anywhere. I’ve built this business utilizing technology.

What advice would you give to advisors looking to go virtual?

Point out the benefit to clients that they don’t have to sit in traffic to come to the office. Often, when you meet in person you have a longer meeting that necessary, just to make it worth it. Virtual meetings avoid that. Now, I have more 20-30 minutes meetings with clients than anything else. Also, I do a lot of meetings at 7 or 8 o’clock at night, and a lot of clients see this as a huge value add. Plus it allows me to have a more flexible work-life balance.

It’s important to use whatever medium clients already have--don’t make them download anything. Make it as easy as possible for them. Simply say, I want to check in with you about this thing, let’s have a quick video chat, what do you use? Facetime? Skype? Then after the virtual meeting ask, how did that work for you?

What role do you think virtual meetings play in the future for advisors?

Huge. I think it will continue to be huge because the biggest benefit to virtual meetings is that it allows you to find the financial planner or the client that works best for you. Rather than just hiring the financial advisor down the street, clients actually think about who is the best fit for their needs. And if someone moves, they can keep their advisor. This used to be an issue before virtual meetings were possible.

What’s the #1 thing you wish you knew going into the RIA business?

That there is no need to have a physical office. I just kept the office space that I had for my prior company, and that lasted only about 3 months. Now that I’m 100% virtual, I can up and move and travel whenever. 

Any other comments/advice?

There are an amazing amount of really low-cost or free technology options out there. From esignatures, to online scheduling, to ways to track your time with clients. Sometimes people feel they have to spend more or buy the big more complex enterprise solution because it's been out longer. But in reality, you can look like you have a very large successful practice for little to no cost in terms of technology.