Amelia Garland is the Head of Relationship Management and Head of Business Development, Studios at Citywire USA.
Amelia is the second in the “My New Normal” series.
I’m talking with financial advisors and the people who work with them to learn about how COVID-19 has impacted their working environments, and how they think the wealth management industry will change as a result of an increase in remote, digital-first work.
In my professional life, it’s been incredible how connected I’ve been to my colleagues because of Zoom, especially our team in London. I wanted to understand how advisors were adapting to the pandemic, so I had the idea to not just focus on the United States but also see how advisors are adapting all over the world. So now I host a podcast series with Ian Horne, who runs Citywire’s UK Relationship Management. We meet with advisors all over the world and that connectivity never would have happened if we weren’t talking as much over Zoom.
And I know everyone says they appreciate time with family more now, but I got the opportunity to create a whole new bond with my mom and dad. I stayed with them for four months, and it was the best four months of my life. We took advantage of this time to make amazing memories, like walking the beach with my mom and getting my dad to do TikTok videos with me. We even saw an osprey nest on the beach and watched the babies hatch. It was beautiful.
Before COVID, I was typically traveling and now I’m not leaving the spot I’m in. But virtually, I’ve been to 20 states to speak with different analysts and advisors. The big thing is I am much more engaged with my colleagues; we brainstorm more. In the office, a lot of us would be traveling or not there for various reasons, but now we can work virtually together without distractions. The output of what we’ve produced over the last four months has been insanely high compared to what it was like before.
Zoom (obviously) and also my new mic. It’s an AlvoxCom and I love how it makes my voice sound in our podcast and in meetings. But definitely my Zoom usage has been ridiculous.
I think that shelter-in-place orders showed we don’t need to be in the office to be productive. More flexible hours give me time to focus on work when I would have been commuting. At most, I think businesses will go back to having a day a month when everyone comes in to debrief on strategy, business projections, long term goals, and struggles. You can bring exciting ideas about what you’re working on and strategize together, but you don’t need to be there every day.
I had tunnel vision with work before. I had to put in the hours, travel, and do those kinds of things. But you can be productive and work hard when you’re at your parents’ house. This experience has shifted the focus of my life in general; your work shouldn’t be your life.
The financial advisors who don’t want to get on Zoom calls, who aren’t tech savvy, and who don’t like digital will need to adapt or they will have to leave the profession. This is the future. Every client wants to Zoom. It used to be quarterly or monthly, and now it’s weekly. Some of that is because there was so much market volatility and the global pandemic, so there had to be more conversations.
But I think there will be a real shift. It definitely puts pressure on advisors, because clients will stay based on meaningful relationships. Advisors are becoming more like therapists. They have to scale their practices with services like behavioral coaching, more advice, and essentially that means they are providing therapy in many cases.
I believe that something good has to come from every bad thing, and I think this is it. Financial services is getting a shake up. We’re seeing it with diversity too and all the activist work going on around that. Lots of change needs to come, and the advisors who stick around and do it right will build the best businesses.