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By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

During a conversation with an extremely successful, veteran advisor, we explored how his client engagement has morphed throughout these past many months.

Prior to the pandemic, he developed his client relationships the old-fashioned way — with heavy face-to-face interaction. However, he confessed the following:

"This pandemic has confirmed something I long suspected yet never tested. I now am absolutely convinced that my effectiveness as an advisor has little to do with meeting with clients in my conference room. Client conversations are just as impactful on the phone or, when clients are open to it, on our computer screens. There does not seem to be any loss of genuine connectivity. In fact, the newfound time efficiencies have allowed for an increased cadence of client encounters."

We continued to explore the notion of efficiencies. One issue particularly hit home when we discussed the difference in the length of virtual versus face-to-face meetings:

"A light bulb went off when I realized that my average client meeting in the office was running about an hour, yet my average virtual meeting was about 20 minutes and those meetings are just as impactful."

"Think about it, a couple invests the energy to drive to my office, park their car, get escorted to the conference room and be served coffee. This investment of time and the ceremonial aspects of it all lead to an expectation for a long sit-down. Compare that to the much smaller investment of time and energy to sit in their own living room and chat with me on Zoom or the phone."

Bottom line: If you believe you need face-to-face client contact to deepen client connectivity, try a proactive virtual outreach and reflect on the impact. Is virtual virtually as good?