When time is money, anything that can lessen the time it takes you to accomplish a task, like scheduling and holding client meetings, is worth investigating. Long client meetings are difficult to schedule, especially for busy high-net-worth clients. Long client meetings often present too much information, leading to ineffective decision making. And client meetings of any length require meeting space, beverages, sometimes a receptionist and waiting area, and video screens or paper to present information. All of this requires your time. And your money.
One way to reduce your client meeting overhead is to explore web-based conference-calling services. These services allow you to not only hold a video conference with your clients, but also provide real-time screen-sharing to help you communicate.
Benefits of using web-based conferencing services include:
- Time and resource savings for both you and your client: no one has to travel to the meeting.
- Time and resource savings for your practice: you do not need to prep a physical conference room.
- Greater flexibility in scheduling client meetings: the meeting can take place even if the client is not physically present in the city or even country.
A wide array of free and paid conferencing services is available. To decide which service to use, you need to prioritize the factors that are most critical to your practice, such as: budget (free/paid), number of meetings per month, number of participants on each call, mobile-device compatibility, and how much information-management security you require. Additionally, as services compete, each offers unique tools, such as recording an entire session, to entice you.
While web conferencing has a number of unique features, the objective of using a service is to maximize your efficiency in operations, and to offer better, modern support for your clients. Unfortunately, these conferencing tools don’t yet offer advice on proper structuring and planning of client meetings. But they will help lower your costs in both time and money when performing such a vital part of your financial advising business.
Some of the commonly used web-based conference-calling services are listed below. Most of the paid services provide a free trial.
- GoToMeeting by Citrix provides several desirable features including screen-sharing and recording sessions. Both the host (you) and the participants (your clients) can interact with on-screen information with their own keyboards and mice, providing a very interactive environment for client meetings. It is one of the most popular web conferencing services used by small business. This is a paid service with a free trial period.
- WebEx by Cisco is a good choice for smaller practices. It provides screen-sharing and compatibility with mobile smart devices. WebEx provides a basic version that is free, and you can meet with two other people using this service. Pricing on their paid packages is similar to other providers.
- Adobe Connect by Adobe provides a very expansive list of features including a digital office with a dedicated web address that can store all your documents, notes, and files. It also allows you to collaborate on any mobile platform, so if you or your clients are out of the physical office, you can still have the meeting. Connect offers a host of customizations and has a large variety of upgrades. Contact Adobe’s sales department for pricing.
- Uberconference may have fewer bells and whistles compared to some of the other services, but it provides good ease-of-operations with well-thought-out features, including a dedicated meeting room with your unique URL so people can join the meeting even if you (as the host) are late. Uberconference also offers a push feature to notify you when others are in the meeting room. You can sync to your LinkedIn or Google address books to make scheduling meetings a much quicker task. You can record client meetings, and, after the conference ends, Uberconference emails you information about the meeting along with the link to your recording. With mobile accessibility and pin-free setup, your clients can join meetings with minimal hassles. The service is free for up to 10 participants.
- Skype is a commonly used and commonly installed free service, which could make for a relatively easy experience for both you and your clients, as you both may already know how to use the service. The upgrade for Skype is Skype for Business. A stand-alone package comes as low as $2 per user/month and provides features such as whiteboards and desktop sharing. As part of the Windows platform, Skype and Skype for Business integrate well with Microsoft Outlook and other Microsoft Office apps.
- Google Hangouts allows for screen sharing and real-time collaboration on documents through Google Docs. You can video conference with a maximum of 10 participants at a time. While Hangouts has mobile compatibility for video conferencing, it presently does not allow for screen sharing on mobile devices. The service is free, but you must have a Gmail account to use it.
- Free Conference Call.com is a smaller player that provides free web conferencing services. It provides video conferencing and screen sharing services for up to 1,000 participants. You can integrate with Google and Outlook calendars. Meeting record and playback tools are also available.