It’s safe to say – today’s advice business isn’t like yesterday’s.
Yesterday’s adviser had less on their plate; less compliance to deal with, less administration, less study to stay qualified and as result, more time to do other things. More time to spend growing their business instead of just keeping it running. More time to spend finding and engaging with new clients.
And we all know, finding new clients takes time.
It definitely requires more effort and expense than it does to maintain solid relationships with the clients your already have. In a world where it increasingly has never taken so much time to just keep an advice business going, it makes complete sense to focus on developing long standing relationships with existing clients; to have an advice business that strives to create clients for life.
But advisers today are also already spending a lot more time delivering services to clients. Even with the desire to retain and serve clients for life, the time and cost of doing so has increased significantly and cannot be overlooked.
So, what’s the solution?
Some say advisers don’t charge enough. I actually agree with this as a general commentary but simply increasing the cost of advice to end clients doesn’t really tick the box in terms solving the bigger, long-term problem.
Cost to serve is a huge aspect many advisers fail to understand. But before cost to serve calculations are even considered, advisers need to critically think about which services they should be delivering themselves, which services they need to outsource, and where they should employ the right technology to increase efficiency.
Of course, this can be challenging as it may involve letting go of some of the things you currently do and believe your clients value.
But if we want to take a deeper look into what clients truly value from their financial adviser, we just need to ask Google. There is a plethora of research and survey results that reveal exactly what clients want from their adviser.
The results shouldn’t surprise anyone. Words like trust, guidance, understanding, complexity removed, someone in their corner… Every bit of research points in the same direction.
So, there is great news here. There are some things clients aren’t asking for; the best returns, cheapest products, the latest sexy product or portfolio. Clients want a relationship – one with someone that understands them, can guide them, treat them as an individual, make complex things simple and ultimately help them lead the best life possible. Even better news – technology can’t do any of that very well.
It can’t display empathy, ask the right questions, read a relationship, know when to talk (or when not to). That’s the human stuff, the stuff every adviser should be a Grand Master at. It an adviser’s number one currency.
Technology may ‘eat you alive’ in almost every other space but it will never catch up with you when it comes to the human stuff.
So the way I see it, the only way an adviser can win back balance and create more time is to become an expert at the human element of advice and let technology enable the rest of their business and service delivery as much as possible.
An obvious area to start is investment management. We already know clients don’t come looking for or expecting the best returns or the sexiest looking products and portfolios and we also know (hand on heart) that an adviser can’t beat the market. Yet many advisers still spend so much valuable time delivering the investment management component and acting like it’s an integral part of their value proposition.
In my eyes, that’s one burden that yesterday’s adviser had to bear that I just don’t believe today’s adviser needs to or should do.
The reality is, with the right tech-enabled solutions you can provide clients with a more engaging investment experience, a "Best Interests" outcome that that goes way beyond the common basket of managed funds or core/satellite approach and still delivers a huge reduction in administration and time.
Yesterday’s adviser may have had less on their plate, but today’s adviser has more solutions at their disposal to work smarter instead of harder. However, in order to make the most of these solutions, they will need to let go of doing some things.
The good news is, the result of ‘letting go’ is more precious time to spend in front of your clients, so you can work with them to deliver their best life possible. And in doing that, you will also be using your time to create a business that has clients for life.
Phil Pilgrim, corporate development executive, Implemented Portfolios
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