Robo-advisors, phone apps, and easy access to a plethora of information on the internet has put the traditional role of the human advisor on the verge of being obsolete. Clients now have significantly cheaper ways of obtaining the goal-based financial planning and money management they desire.
Soon, they may even get those things for free, and that begs the question: how can human advisors stay relevant?
In 2020, just three short years from now, how can advisors be indispensable to their clients? Our Founder and CEO, Joe Duran, recently answered this question during his keynote speech at In|Vest 2017, providing 6 rules for today’s advisors.
1. Live Where Your Clients Do. As I mentioned above, over three-quarters of Americans now own smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center. Information about everything and anything is at people’s fingertips. And you need to be able to answer the number one question clients have, “Am I okay?” whenever and wherever to stay relevant.
2. Be Omnipresent and On-Demand. As a result of the growth of smartphones, your clients now have access to their finances 24/7. Consequently, they need to have access to you 24/7. Whenever they have a question, a concern or something changes in their life, you need to be available to them. Technology allows you to do that. Whether that be a phone call, video chat, text or email, you need to be available “on-demand”. Wherever, whenever, however.
3. Live Where Clients’ Lives and Money Intersect. Computer programs are able to help your clients manage their money, but computers cannot show empathy. Technology alone cannot understand what’s going on in your clients’ personal lives or what their aspirations are in terms of how they want to use their money. That’s where you come in. You can provide them with those things. You can give them more than money management. You can give them financial life guidance. Provide discipline to their life choices.
4. Be a Guide and Coach for Clients. As you provide financial life guidance to your clients, you need to do so in a collaborative way. Every client is unique. There is no “cookie-cutter” method that you can use with all your clients. You must shift away from a teacher/student relationship and into more of a coaching relationship where you collaborate with them each, individually, making their experience more engaging and meaningful.
5. Practice at the Top of Your License. Mediocre, average and acceptable should not be words that accurately describe any part of your business. You need to be exceptional in all that you do. But, let’s be honest, no one person can be exceptional at everything, so you need to find ways to make your firm collectively exceptional. Try using these four tactics:
- Work only on your core competence
- Create specialized client-facing roles in your office
- Enact task shifting to improve efficiency
- Outsource everything you are not exceptional at
6. Charge for What Clients Value. It is a very real possibility that in the near future, clients will be able to get money management for free. Price compression will continue to happen. The way to combat it is through a change in your pricing model. Start charging clients for the things they can’t get from a computer. The guidance you provide. The coaching and advice you consistently give. These are the things clients can only get from a human advisor. These are the things that technology will never be able to do, so these are the things you should be charging for.
Wealth management is evolving. The future is bionic. We will continue leaning more and more on technology as the years pass. We can’t fight it, so we need to find a way to make it work for us instead. Provide on-demand guidance. Offer constantly updated, dynamic financial planning. Give your clients’ personalized portfolios. Reimagine wealth management.