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Even in an increasingly digital world the financial advisory profession relies on community. Advisors’ clients tend to live within driving distance. The most common methods of building new business are networking and referrals. Even the largest wirehouses open offices in wealthy cities, rather than blanketing them with digital ads.

As a result of the coronavirus, the advisory business model has changed precipitously, with two key trends driving this transformation: a shift in the way that consumers are using the internet to find advisors and a surge in consumer comfort with remote technologies.

As the coronavirus struck the U.S. in March, investors went searching for advice. Those who already had a financial advisor asked for advice. Those that did not went looking for answers.

During the first six months of the coronavirus, the searches for the term “financial advisor” increased 17% compared to 2019’s average. With people confined to their homes and facing uncertainty, they realized that they needed advice. According to market research by Facebook, in the early days of the pandemic, 60% of respondents indicated that the crisis evinced a need to be more proactive about financial planning and security in the future.

An emerging digital divide

While it’s clear that investors turned to Google to find a financial advisor when confined to their homes, what’s to stop consumers from going back to their old habits once a vaccine is available?

Some investors will always be open to in-person prospecting. However, those investors are likely to be fewer and harder to reach.