[Leading your firm through a dire external crisis, addressing the heightened concerns of your clients, and continuing a business growth dynamic all combine into a very challenging calculus. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown many organizations into rapidly navigating new ways to transition from the traditional workplace—and established ways of doing things—to a new virtual working environment. The question of the moment is: How do you re-design your firm to effectively communicate, enhance productivity and stay agile during times of crisis and uncertainty?

Exploring these critical topics led us to reach out to Dean Thurman, Mike Thurman, Jeff Grail co-founders and Evan Kramer, CEO of White Glove—an award-winning end-to-end premium marketing and client retention services company that specializes in the logistics of planning, managing and promoting educational seminars for financial advisors and other industry professionals. They are an excellent example of a firm whose whole business model—attracting nearly 50,000 annual seminar attendees to thousands of advisor events—had to very quickly accelerate to virtual and web-based solutions. White Glove now provides a seamless transition to virtual communication for financial professionals into virtual seminars and other web-based products to help advisors leverage their financial guidance during the current crisis.

Their willingness to share how they rapidly transformed their value proposition from face-to-face seminar logistics to being able to offer turnkey virtual events makes an excellent case study for everyone in the financial services industry...especially now, when Google searches for “webinars” and “financial help” are at an all-time high. Here are some of the best steps and leadership practices for bridging the gap between the actual and virtual world at a time when our communities need our services the most.]

Bill Hortz: In building your new virtual seminar and community engagement offering, what were the first main strategic management decisions you had to make before proceeding?

Dean Thurman: We started by creating a shared goal and purpose that was clear from the very beginning: our local communities need advice and knowledgeable financial professionals more than ever. With all normal physical interactions out the window and having to move the entire process to digital experiences and virtual meetings, we focused ourselves to help address these challenges with technology to smooth over some of this friction for advisors - and their clients and prospects.

Evan Kramer: White Glove, from a technology and logistics basis, has always been focused on removing work from our advisor clients so our shared goal on this new virtual offering was easy to rally around. We just applied our already existing approach to design a new Virtual Seminar and community engagement process from A-Z. Our mission has always been to make it easy for the advisor to connect with their local communities - retirees, pre-retirees, and other demographics. As a concierge business, we decided to manage every aspect of quality control of this transition in real time, and this dedicated resource can now deliver that experience even better than a live seminar.

Hortz: What were the first steps you took and what considerations did you address to position for successful execution?

Evan Kramer: I had a lot of experience in this area already. I came to White Glove from a virtual learning company where we did thousands of virtual events each year. I was able to quickly educate the company on the playbook of what we needed. This included: the ability to manage webinars at scale; the ability to consider user experience of attendees for optimal educational engagement; being able to better measure and qualify learning outcomes; as well as, the ability to better optimize length of events and scheduling.

These are all things that many companies figure out as they go, but it is imperative to master these concepts immediately for the sake of the client. In White Glove’s case, we needed to do so right out of the gate so that our client, the advisor, is accurately showcased as the knowledgeable thought leader that they are...the first time around. Mastering these areas of the playbook right away provides a top-notch consumer experience that is going to motivate them to secure their financial future and tell their peers about it.

We then assessed what we had foundationally so that we could determine what else we needed. We quickly reorganized the business to focus more particularly on our educational product experience in a virtual environment. Moving forward, this is going to become increasingly important.

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