“Clients are going to expect a higher quality of data,” he said. “They’re not going to tolerate a talking head going on about their portfolio. Over time, advisors are going to have to accommodate a lot of this stuff and they’re probably not going to like all of the control they’re going to cede over to their clients. They’re going to have to learn how to exert not control, but influence. In virtual meetings, the relationship skills they have developed – rapport building and salesmanship – are diminished in their influence.”

Advisors will also have to be better prepared for meetings, Haman said. Without virtual cues, advisors can’t afford to just let the conversation flow. The breadth of advice offered will also have to increase to differentiate human advisors from rapidly improving and evolving digital alternatives.

One benefit to virtual meetings is the ability for advisors to convey higher quality information and use digital illustrations and videos, said Haman. Bringing strong visuals into a virtual meeting may help keep clients engaged.

Advisors should also learn to use narrative storytelling, said Haman, which helps galvanize client emotions and retain their engagement.

“The visual cortex is gigantic, and virtual meetings allow you to activate the visual cortex more powerfully than you would in a live meeting,” said Haman. “But advisors also have to get good at narrative structure and storytelling, because nobody was ever convinced by a number or a graph. They need a story.”

Advisors who can create quality narratives that demonstrate their own personal qualities and convey relevant information will be able to differentiate, said Haman.

Haman, who has a clinical psychology background, believes that moving towards more virtual interactions will require advisors to explore new adaptations of behavioral finance concepts to keep clients engaged.

Virtual meetings give clients fewer social obligations, said Haman. Human social responsibility is instinctive and strongly linked to visual cues – clients who engage virtually may feel less of a need to adapt to the social setting established by an advisor

“A virtual meeting eliminates the signals used by the human unconscious to interpret the vast amount of information that a face-to-face meeting contains,” he said. “Getting into a physiological rapport with someone requires a high degree of acuity to see them, but video can remove that. The sound is flat and sometimes muffled, posture can’t be seen because cameras are usually focused on the face, and the image is flat so nuances in facial expressions can’t be seen.”

Advisors have to be aware that client attention spans lag because their subtle physical cues are more difficult to register over virtual meetings and it may be more difficult to build rapport and comfort with clients. Haman compared virtual meetings to driving a car. On the highway, people feel fewer social obligations and controls because they “don’t see the people in other cars as real,” which is why people will say and do things to other drivers that they wouldn’t do to someone they meet on the street or in a business.