Live chat has been around for some time, especially in the technology industry. Companies that use it have a single point of contact to manage customer service and online sales activity in real time. I'm sure many of us have encountered it when trying to figure out a problem with our computer, or our cable provider.
This however, is a killer application for the financial services industry! In one implementation we had over 600 interactions with visitors to a firm's website over 2 years, many of which turned into dialogs, appointments and eventually clients!
Pros - It's easy to implement with the addition of some code to your web site, and very inexpensive. It gives you the ability to see when visitors land on your site, and exactly what they are looking at. More important, you can answer questions before they leave, and even help them find what they are looking for.
Cons - You need a person who understands what you do and can dedicate the time to being there when a visitor needs help. You also need to archive the conversations for compliance, but most vendors make it easy. My favorite one from a cost and value perspective is Olark.