At this mid-year point, we are finally experiencing what we hoped in the fight of our country to reduce the incidents of COVID-19. We're seeing the lowest level of new cases and deaths in almost a year due to progress with vaccines. With this encouraging trend, what are some of the services we should focus upon to provide, following the directives of our NAIFA Code of Ethics?
As we approach mid-year of 2021, one of the key obligations of the Code in which clients may be vulnerable is the first obligation:
- To help maintain my clients’ confidences and protect their right to privacy.
As the use of technology has increased in providing financial products and services, we need to exercise all needed diligence to keep all client information in protected files and out of the access of computer hackers. This may involve improving the antivirus we utilize for client records as well as replacing aging hardware or software. Seeking the service of a computer technologist may be needed to verify the utility of items.
We should also remind any of our staff who access client records for service to exercise the same diligence. Our clients assume no less with the responsibilities they have entrusted to us.
In my last column earlier this year, we considered how to we could implement the second obligation as the COVID-19 virus was then accelerating, as there was no vaccine yet fully developed. In the NAIFA Experience Survey, 2020, client in-person meetings were dropping in frequency. An alternative to face-to-face meetings with client concerns was virtual meetings using technology. This may still be a means of visually interacting with clients in some cases where clients remain uneasy with meeting in person. Virtual technology is available through a number of sources at a moderate expense. Sources I have used with success include Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Other clients may be more at ease with personal meetings, especially those who have been vaccinated. These are questions each advisor has to resolve with his or her clients. However, whether virtually or in person, we can say and act upon the fourth obligation a little easier now than early this year:
- To render timely and proper service to my clients and ultimately their beneficiaries.
Finally, a key obligation in the NAIFA Code of Ethics speaks directly to the importance of the financial products and planning we provide our clients and the importance of advocacy:
- To protect the financial interests of my clients, their financial products and my profession, through political advocacy.
We can each be proud of the various avenues we have within NAIFA to engage our elected officials and be proponents of the various concerns we share with our clients for their benefit and the benefit of their families. Among NAIFA's advocacy tools, resources, and opportunities are the 2021 Virtual Congressional Conference, Grassroots Engagement Training Series, continuing the building of relationships in a new Congress, the Advocacy in Action blog, the Congressional Council and other ways to increase involvement with our elected officials in advocating for our clients, their financial products, and our profession.
No doubt we and our clients are coming out of a crisis of serious difficulty, and our ability to communicate in a personal face-to-face manner is becoming more possible. As we all know, this type of communication is often the most effective and clear means we have. And we still have technology when needed. The best to each of you in what may be a real light at the end of the tunnel.