During the coronavirus pandemic, the nature of events in the financial services industry changed. Where once financial advisors leapt onto trains and into cars to enjoy the full physical experience complete with breakfast and breakouts, under COVID they got used to online webinars and the like.
With real-world events beginning to resurface in the summer of 2021, we wanted to know what they might look like going forward, so we surveyed nearly 200 advisors globally.
IRL or URL?
We found that the appetite to get going right away is pretty strong but that client experience would be key.
What does that mean? What form should the client experience be taking in the ‘new normal’? Which is better: real life or online?
Taking everything into account, 89% believed that physical events provide the better experience and 86% that it was best to be present in person for networking.
However, when it comes to education, 63% believed online events are the way forward. Advisors liked the lack of distractions, the improved audio and video, and the benefits of pausing and rewinding.
A tick for slick
In person meetings were preferred for interactions with the fund manager as was being able to speak in person to the product manager or analyst. But when it comes to registration, 96% believed online offered the slicker experience.
We agree. It seems logical to take the login experience online and subsequently use an event management platform to automate reminder and confirmation emails, so people get timely reminders ahead of the webcast.
Advisors agreed that interactions with people were easier online as they more variety of channels to ask questions. They can use chat or voice and do it during breakout sessions or networking. They also believed that online events were better prepared and structured: a 45-minute webinar tended to be just that.
Investors were happy to join online events as long as the interface is slick, the sound quality is fine, and they can replay the event whenever they wish. However, content must be fresh and interesting, and this generally took place in real life. Physical events happen less often, so content tends to be of higher quality and they often attract the best speakers.
People attending physical events are also looking for convenient travel, parking, and good catering. Events that start at 9am in tricky locations are notorious for no-shows – they’re simply too hard to get to. And if they have to pay to park? Forget it.
This client experience revelation blends nicely into one of the other key findings of our report: that hybrid events are likely to be the future.
It seems that a physical event, with registration taking place online, that’s simultaneously streamed online and that records the action for distribution and digestion after the fact, is the way forward. And for some types of event, such as short educational talks, online alone is the preferred format.