The Covid-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it, and while we all hope to return to some normalcy, there are a number of trends unfolding that will continue to shape our society, the economy and the businesses of the future.

It’s time to ask, for instance, how has Covid-19 changed retirement? How has it affected financial professionals? Or clients? What do we need to be aware of?

What trends have emerged from the pandemic, and how can we capitalize on them—not just to show how adaptive we are or to differentiate our firms, but also to deliver better service and returns for our clients?

Game Changers
Let’s start with some game-changing trends for financial professionals and then later turn to three post-pandemic retirement trends impacting clients. These trends should be kept in mind as we’re having business development conversations and client dialogues from now on.

One of the changes is in how we now interact.

Many of us began our careers meeting clients face-to-face and knee-to-knee, doing things like reflective listening and mirroring. But that’s all changed. People can no longer see your smile behind a mask, admire your wall of degrees or designations or displayed images of you in a newspaper or magazine.

Furthermore, a new client may not be able to or want to walk into your office and get a sense of your family or community involvement. Instead, they may only be able to see a small, 4-by-4 foot space behind your laptop. So how will prospects garner a first impression, and what will replace a firm handshake, hug or pat on the back in this post-pandemic era of retirement planning?

The reality is that a new set of trust factors has emerged that both new and existing clients will use in their relationships with us. This trust will emerge from the “social proof” you offer, from your screen skills and from your personal marketing.

Social Proof
What happens if someone Googles your name? What comes up? Is it your LinkedIn profile, a personal Facebook page, your political rants on Twitter, or is it your generic bio on a company website? More important, what do you want to come up?

Most advisors don’t have an answer to that last question, but it’s taking center stage now. Too often advisors assume that their digital image reflects their personal perspective, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Next, what happens when people Google your company name? Does it come up on the top of the page, or is it buried at the bottom or on the dreaded second page? Does it show up correctly in a map app? Have people rated your service good or bad?

The key issue here is that clients don’t necessarily hire your firm as much as they hire you. They also tend to work with people who are like them or share their values. That means your digital footprint should reflect the things that are important to you and your clients—they should be able to see who you are and what is important to you by looking you up online.

The biggest gap I see in advisors’ social proof is the things they say in their online communications and how that contrasts with what people see. They may say things like, “You aren’t just a number to us” or claim they are “holistic financial planners.” But when you look at their online profiles and company websites, there is no proof in the pudding. It suggests that they’re just regular advisors who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

That means advisors need to take a hard, strategic look at their digital footprint and make sure they have social proof in their content, images and video links, items that not only paint the right picture of them but also differentiate them from others.

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