Virtual Assistant

DEFINITION of 'Virtual Assistant'

A virtual assistant is an independent contractor who provides administrative services to clients while operating outside of the client's office. A virtual assistant typically operates from a home office, but is able to access the necessary planning documents, such as shared calendars, remotely. People employed as virtual assistants typically have several years of secretarial or office management experience.

BREAKING DOWN 'Virtual Assistant'

Virtual assistants have become more prominent as businesses increase their use of the Internet for daily operations. Because a virtual assistant is a contractor, a business does not have to provide the same benefits that it would for a full-time employee. In addition, since the virtual assistant works offsite, there is no need for a desk or other workspace at the company's office.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant

With the increasing number of freelance contractors who work from home, the employment market has seen a proliferation of Web-based companies that serve as intermediaries between prospective employers and contractors. Some freelancer sites have enormous work pools made up of individuals across the globe with a wide range of experience and expertise.

On these sites, clients can post details about the type of tasks they need the virtual assistant to perform and the maximum rate they are willing to pay. Freelance workers may then bid on the job and give the client samples of their work for review. In some cases, the client can set up a video conference to interview the applicants and to more thoroughly assess their qualifications.

For the client, one advantage of hiring a virtual assistant is the flexibility to contract for just the services he needs. Depending on the terms of the agreement, some virtual assistants may be paid by the task rather than by the hour. In contrast, employees in a traditional office setting usually must be paid for a fixed number of hours per day.

Duties of a Virtual Assistant

The specific duties of a virtual assistant vary according to the needs of the client and the terms of the contract. Some virtual assistants handle clerical and bookkeeping duties, while others may post regular updates to social media or write articles for a blog. A well-rounded virtual assistant may also handle travel arrangements, appointment scheduling, data entry and online file storage.

Before hiring a virtual assistant, the client can ensure a smoother working relationship by creating detailed instructions about tasks he needs performed. A written manual reduces the risk of misunderstandings that can occur in a remote working relationship.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Virtual Office

    A business location that exists only in cyberspace. A virtual ...
  2. Virtual Good

    A good or product traded in the non-physical realm, typically ...
  3. Trade Adjustment Assistance - TAA

    An unemployment assistance program offered in the United States ...
  4. Assistance Agreement

    An agreement between a lending government, financial institution, ...
  5. Catalog Of Federal Domestic Assistance ...

    A compendium of Federal assistance programs, which are administered ...
  6. Facebook Credits

    Virtual currency (currency used only on the internet) that can ...
Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    How To Make Money By Working From Home

    There is an abundance of work-from-home opportunities, but research and caution is crucial to finding a legitimate home-based job.
  2. Professionals

    Manage Your Clients' Expectations

    You can't control how they react to the market, but you can help them understand the reality of the situation.
  3. Financial Advisors

    Advisors: Why Older Clients Need Housing Help

    When was the last time you talked to your clients about housing in retirement?
  4. Entrepreneurship

    Get the Best Freelance Rates for Your Work

    Smart strategies for estimating costs, researching fees, pricing projects and getting your rate for a range of clients.
  5. Entrepreneurship

    The Best Work from Home Jobs for Moms

    Here are the four best work from home jobs for moms. See if one peaks your interest and get started today!
  6. Entrepreneurship

    Should You Hire Contractors or Employees for Your Small Business?

    Learn the pros and cons of hiring independent contractors instead of regular full-time employees. Find out about a potential risk for severe tax penalties.
  7. Investing

    Asset Manager Ethics: Acting In the Benefit of Clients

    Investment managers should always act to benefit the client. Learn what actions managers should take on a client's behalf.
  8. Professionals

    Private Banking Vs. Wealth Management: Not Quite the Same

    Discover the various ways in which private banking and wealth management services coincide, as well as the significant differences between them.
  9. Your Clients

    How to Construct an Annual Review for Clients

    One of the best things that advisors can provide to clients is an annual review of their financial situation. Here are some guidelines.
  10. Financial Advisors

    Losing a Client Is Not Always The End of The World

    Losing a client is never pleasant for a financial advisor, but sometimes this is a better outcome than continuing the relationship.
RELATED FAQS
  1. I want to start buying stocks. Where do I start?

    Before you jump into buying stock, first take the time to learn what type of broker-dealer may be right for you. Read Answer >>
  2. Will a 10-99 form make my taxes higher?

    My employer is not withholding taxes each pay day. Will this increase my taxes because they will give ... Read Answer >>
  3. Under the Uniform Securities Act, client information may not be disclosed to a third ...

    The correct answer is c. No authorization is needed from the client’s wife since it is a joint account. Also none is needed ... Read Answer >>
  4. Your firm is a registered investment advisor that specializes in investment management ...

    The correct answer is b: As a professional, you must be able to recognize when clients make requests for services that are ... Read Answer >>
  5. How do externalities affect equilibrium and create market failure?

    Learn about the responsibilities of the International Monetary Fund and its functions regarding the international monetary ... Read Answer >>
  6. An advisor has all client advisory fees automatically deducted from their accounts ...

    The correct answer is c) An advisor is not deemed to have custody of client funds when debiting management fees from the ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Physical Capital

    Physical capital is one of the three main factors of production in economic theory. It consists of manmade goods that assist ...
  2. Labor Market

    The labor market refers to the supply and demand for labor, in which employees provide the supply and employers the demand. ...
  3. Demand Curve

    The demand curve is a graphical representation of the relationship between the price of a good or service and the quantity ...
  4. Goldilocks Economy

    An economy that is not so hot that it causes inflation, and not so cold that it causes a recession. This term is used to ...
  5. White Squire

    Very similar to a "white knight", but instead of purchasing a majority interest, the squire purchases a lesser interest in ...
Trading Center