For financial advisors, few periods in their career will rival the impact the pandemic has had on their clients. Economic uncertainty, coupled with healthcare considerations, led many clients to rely on their advisors to address a myriad of financial needs. The Salesforce Trends in Financial Services report revealed how these disruptions changed the industries’ priorities. For the wealth management industry, implementing new technology and investing in automation took higher priority over developing new products and services.
Not only are advisors expanding client support in new ways, they are also looking to grow as client acquisition is an important priority. With the complexity of their roles changing, advisors need to increase productivity. Automation can help financial advisors adjust to these forces and fulfill clients’ expanding expectations.
The wealth management advisor role is changing
Deepening client relationships requires a strong advisor team. That’s harder to do as the number of advisors dwindles. As many advisors retire, not enough new enter the field. The number of advisors will fall below 300,000 by 2022. That’s down from 340,000 in 2007. Also, competition for top advisors is at an all-time high with strong digital capabilities being a key expectation. These capabilities will also be crucial in attracting the next generation of advisors to the industry. In fact, a recent J.D. Power Research survey found that the most significant indicator of satisfaction among both employee and independent advisors is the perception their firm is working to improve its technology.
As previously stated, client needs and expectations are expanding. More than three quarters of consumers are concerned about their financial situation, job security, and physical health. They’re coming to their advisors for counsel beyond investment advice.
Besides feeling less confident (or maybe because of it), clients want to collaborate with their financial advisors on decisions in a richer, deeper way. They seek access to information at any time so they can educate themselves and, in some cases, make their own online investment moves.
The advisor-client relationship has never been more important
As advisors take on the role of “financial life coach” for their clients and their clients’ families, addressing a broader array of needs — healthcare, budgeting, estate planning, liquidity, elder care — the relationship becomes more crucial. With clients seeking education and empowerment, they are collaborating with advisors to co-create their financial life plan. Advisors who successfully leverage marketing programs and digital channels to engage with their clients are poised to grow their practices meaningfully.
Three principles to scale advisor productivity
There are three new principles advisors and wealth management firms need to adopt to sustain meaningful and long-term client relationships. These principles enable clients and advisors to work together to identify and pursue better financial wellness.
- Simplicity: Remove confusion, complexity, and unnecessary tasks. Determine which routine tasks do not require human support and can be automated for rich self-service capabilities. This frees up time for both clients and advisors to foster more meaningful relationships.
Pull all customer data into one source for all advisors to access to save time. This will also give advisors a full view of clients so they can provide personalized offers.
- Empathy: Address financial, personal, and emotional needs in a thoughtful manner. Better insights allow advisors to recognize these needs and provide proactive support. Be sure to speak to clients in a language that is straightforward and aligned to their understanding of financial topics.
- Integration: Organize firms, systems, and offerings around people’s lives. Advisors need to identify new ways to add value to every client interaction. Create tailored experiences by building apps connected to your customer relationship management (CRM) platform that provide recommendations when they need them.
As clients’ needs change, firms need to give advisors the tools they need to be a coach and partner. New technology initiatives will allow them to meet client expectations, as well as make the firm attractive to the best advisor talent.