“We learned from 2008 that if you’re not hearing from your clients, you shouldn’t assume that they don’t want to hear from you,” says Tamer. “They want proactive communication.”

Luckily, since 2008, technology has improved to the point that maintaining client communications from a home office is much easier.

Tamer says the advisors he works with have become adept at using applications like FaceTime and Skype and are able to consult with their co-workers using conferencing tools like WebEx or Zoom—and most of that software was not available during the global financial crisis.

“We’ve also made a lot of great strides in online account opening and being able to do so with electronic signatures,” Tamer says. “We’re at the point now where people can deposit checks with an electronic signature using their phones—so it makes it much easier for advisors to operate without having to see their clients face-to-face.”

Advisors across age groups have warmed to such technology, Tamer says, and so have their clients. In fact, many older clients already use conference software to stay in communication with their children and grandchildren. While some less technology-literate clients may need help completing financial tasks like online check depositing and account opening, most are probably already using the tools they’ll need to access an advisor’s full range of services online.

At St. Louis-based Moneta Group, technology has allowed advisors to continue working “without missing a beat,” says partner Nicole Bailey. “For our clients, it still looks like we’re calling from our office—we’re really at home, but they ask to make sure we’re not flouting the guidelines. We just set up to transfer our office calls to our homes.”

The crisis may normalize the everyday use of technology in advisors’ practices that goes beyond chat and videoconferencing, says Kyle Hiatt, chief revenue officer for Omaha, Neb.-based Orion Advisor Solutions. For example, Orion’s client portal also offers co-browsing, which allows advisors and clients to interact on the same computer desktop during a chat or videoconference. The technology may help clients ask questions more clearly, and enable advisors to more quickly provide answers. Advisors and their clients may even come to embrace technology they were previously hesitant to use.

“Custodians have digitized the account opening process, but those capabilities have so far had a low adoption rate. I would expect to see that increase as well as people become used to the technology,” Hiatt says. “We’re all going to be comfortable with e-signatures and web signatures.”

While cybersecurity remains an issue, Tamer says that technology providers and custodians have emphasized advances that now permit advisors to work in secure settings remotely and on mobile devices. The biggest threat to a practice’s security remains a human one—bad actors impersonating the end client—but the widespread adoption of multiple-factor authentication acts as a safeguard from that vulnerability.

But working from home successfully over long periods of time requires more than videoconferencing capabilities, electronic signatures and strong cybersecurity practices.