COVID-19 has opened Pandora’s Box for many numbers-minded people in all businesses.

More specifically, the value of empowering employees to work remotely is now undeniable. This notion rings doubly true in 2020 when an in-flux economy facing a pandemic has made many organizations tighten their financial belts.

Consider this statistic provided by an in-depth study:

By allowing an employee to work from home only half the time, companies would save $11,000 per employee, on average.

It doesn’t take a financial services expert to notice what this statistic could mean to a bottom line. Combined with surges in new cases throughout the U.S., expect this reliance on remote work to remain the norm for the foreseeable future.

What does this shift mean for the workforce and their employers in the financial service industry? At Preston & Company, it’s become clear that the remote work focus has led to a demand for a new set of skills.

Developing a Video Conferencing Skillset

In-person meetings and discussions with leads, clients, colleagues, and superiors are no longer the norms in the remote work world.

The natural replacement is video conferencing—meaning that employers must now prioritize a previously ignored list of proficiencies. Moreover, those seeking jobs in financial services must develop their abilities in the video conferencing sphere.

It might seem as though the face-to-face interactive skills developed over the years should bridge the gap. But the differences between video communications and in-person discussions are seemingly endless.

There are nuances involved in both processes that require separate knowledge bases and understandings.

Remember, during the pandemic’s onset, when everyone frequently video-called with family and friends? With these discussions came many hurdles, distractions, and frustrations—because remote meetings are a completely unique beast.

The above issue remains a hurdle for many people. It’s those who’ve closed the knowledge gap that will separate themselves from the pack and catch the eye of firms looking to add talent to match the new ways in which business is conducted.

So, financial service companies now seek employees who’ve honed the following video-conferencing abilities:

Skill #1: Presentation and Selling Ability

This suggestion isn’t about unnecessary razzle-dazzle or being unnaturally outgoing.

All the same, the audience must be engaged if video conferences are to be productive. A Corporate Visions Study points out that creating a sense of engagement is conducive to more beneficial interactions.

The study examined situations with salespeople writing down words or drawing pictures to increase message effectiveness, seller credibility, and information recall. This led to increased sales by 24% year-over-year through video calls. Professionals who aren’t impeded in their selling ability over video conferences rather than in person are especially valuable, currently. 

A similar approach can be used for internal meetings; messaging and planning will resonate more successfully with more well-attuned presentation skills.

Skill #2: Troubleshooting Technological Skills

 As the world gets more familiarized with conducting business over video conferences, functionality-based expectations will increase.

Yes, the pandemic’s first few months gave some breathing room in this area. Now, with enough time spent on video conferencing platforms, it’s expected by prospects and colleagues that video conversations go off without a hitch.

Understanding how to DIY the troubleshooting will mitigate these issues and help employees maintain professionalism.

Skill #3: Eye Contact with the Camera Instead of the Screen

Other than technical issues, eye contact presents the most prevalent problem over video discussions.

First and foremost, it’s always tempting to look off in the distance when not in the person’s (or people’s) physical presence you’re talking to.

Still, even when you get over that initial hump, many industry professionals make a critical error: they look at the computer screen. While intentions might be pure in this instance, it fails to establish the firm eye contact synonymous with excellent communication skills.

Instead, look into the camera, which will likely be located right above your screen. To clarify, you don’t always have to look into the camera; just make sure to time it when the prospect is looking at the screen so you can maintain eye contact when it’s needed. Behaviors like this, though they seem minor, can help establish the human, personal connection that is somewhat diminished in virtual interactions. 

Skill #4: Look Your Best

Working at home and dealing with COVID-related anxieties has led to some de-prioritizing their appearances.

It’s understandable, but prospects and coworkers won’t be impressed when the individual on the other side of the camera is in sweatpants.

A professional wardrobe, filming in favorable lighting, and a visually appealing background are all integral during video conferences.

Whether you’re an employee seeking out a new role in financial services, or an employer looking for their next superstar hire, video conferencing skills are now a must-have.

At Preston & Company, we’ve prioritized cultivating a pool of financial service talent inclined toward video conferencing. Contact us today for a chance at hiring the most sought-after candidates throughout the retirement, asset management, and insurance industries.

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