“Evolve or die,” is the blunt way British actor Craig Charles put it. The world is moving on, and the financial advisor profession is no exception to these tectonic shifts. Today, an aging advisor population is facing fee compression, ever-changing technology and an uncertain horizon in the market. The need for evolution is acute, and advisors need to start walking upright quickly.
Changing Markets: China and the Roaring 20s
China and the U.S. have a kind of symbiotic relationship that looks parasitic from some angles. We need each other and compete with each other at the same time. Our countries’ governments continue conversation with a little negotiation thrown in, meanwhile affecting investor behavior, which in turn affects market behavior.
Every time Donald Trump and Xi Jinping open the door for each other on the news, a frenzy of buying and selling is bound to occur, no matter what actually happens. Today’s advisor needs to have some understanding of current events and how client behavioral bias is impacted by much more than spreadsheets and graphs. At home, the roaring 2020’s are about to begin, and wise investors and advisors are taking caution. Risk rises when one country, style or sector has been outperforming for an extended period.
The U.S. has been doing well for quite a while, and growth and technology stocks have also been outperforming, which could all make for changes for financial advisors. Our concern is whether investors have been riding this wave for too long. Because recession risks (and fears) are rising, we need to be prepared. The market could react strongly to any economic number that misses, and those of us in financial services need to be ready for it.
Changing Clients: Customer Service for the Informed Walk-In
Thanks to the internet, today’s customer comes pre-informed to so many decisions. Often they will know your fee schedule, your basic investment philosophy and even your hobbies if you have a good bio before they walk in the door. Advisors can no longer hang most of their value on investment management. Potential clients have direct access to mountains of data and bargain-basement prices for investment services from robos. Financial advisors no longer hold the keys to the investment management kingdom – at least not the only set.
Today’s growing firm position themselves as comprehensive coaches for all of a client’s financial life – tying all activity back to their own personalized goals and outcomes. The planning-centric approach reinforces an advisor’s intangible value while helping to maintain client emotions in the midst of market volatility. Those who don’t build their business holistically are practically one market correction away from exposure as under-prepared and obsolete.
Changing Technology: Time for an Update!
As your high school science class taught, you can boil a frog one degree at a time – and he doesn’t realize he’s in danger until it’s too late. Technological change, especially in wealth management, can have this effect. So many firms operate on outdated systems and antiquated technology, not paying attention as the heat of the future goes up. Today’s clients, especially the upcoming mass affluent, have technology all around them. The first place they’ll find you is a website, and the first thing they’ll want to see is a digital dashboard where they can interact with their financial information. And forget it if they can’t access it all on their phone.
The right technology can give clients a frictionless experience that delights and showcases value beyond a doubt. It’s why we’ve spent more than $70 million on our ecosystem in the past few years. Using a bionic approach (technology that highlights the human element) can enable advisors to elevate their client experience by:
- Better serving clients where they are
- Better articulating the intangible, comprehensive value advisors provide
- Freeing you up for more meaningful interactions
Investing in technology can help your advisors serve more clients more effectively, giving them more time and energy for developing the client-relationship itself. Technology, ironically, deepens and lengthens your human connection with clients.
The More Things Change…
Change is the only constant in the world and finance seems to be constantly shedding its skin. Advisors need to be ahead of the curve to keep the clients they have and especially to tap into the next generation. Carson Partners have the support of a national presence, a deeper bench of professionals and innovative technological solutions.