The disruption brought on by COVID-19 has impacted the financial advice sector in a range of ways. Client expectations are continuing to shift, and we have seen corresponding changes in advisers’ expectations of their BDMs.
New research by Business Health(1) found that 47% of BDMs in Australia believe they have added significant value for advisers during the pandemic while only 19% of advisers are of the same opinion.
That worrying gap in perception is something BDMs need to reflect on, in order to better understand and deliver against what value looks like for advisers in a fast-changing world.
BDMs now have a unique opportunity to take their learnings from this experience and apply them to the way they support advisers into the future. Some have already improved their adviser support, helping practices to adapt and add value to their clients through relevant and timely updates.
The impact of COVID-19 on the role of BDMs
The pandemic has prompted a review of the traditional industry model with regular face-to-face meetings each week. Business Health research(1) found that well over half of both advisers and BDMs expect there to be far less one-to-one, in-person meetings as we enter the next phase of our lives, post COVID-19.
At TAL, this means we are building on the meaningful support and guidance our BDMs provide advisers to enhance and personalise their communications digitally. The pandemic has given BDMs the opportunity to grow their skills and focus on tailored adviser support through untraditional means, like helping advisers transition to digital advice, and offering marketing support where desired. COVID-19 has forced a digital shift, with BDMs embracing various technology options for proactive adviser engagement.
For advisers and BDMs to move forward together, they must look to continuously reinvent their relationships rather than just during a period of disruption.
Willingness to adapt will lead to success
BDMs who understand advisers’ practices in depth and adapt to meet their evolving needs can become an extension of the advisers’ business, and give them confidence in their interactions.
Advisers have consistently shown that the things they most value in their BDMs are honesty, efficiency, responsiveness, and professionalism. BDMs must demonstrate their reliability and passion for service delivery and should equally be on an education journey with their advisers. This is immensely powerful and ultimately will lead to a stronger and more successful industry for us all.
While our BDMs at TAL continue to proactively communicate relevant updates to advisers such as large quote discounts and suspense management assistance, they are also sharing new and relevant education courses for advisers to attend. As our industry standards continue to change, so too does TAL’s Risk Academy to support advisers along their education journeys. And, to ensure our BDMs offer the best support possible, they’re encouraged to attend TAL’s Risk Academy FASEA Masterclass as well. By adapting to meet advisers’ needs, BDMs continue to learn how best they can tailor their support.
Looking to the future
BDMs need to be capable and knowledgeable to help advisers provide the top level of support to their clients. Communication and relationship skills will forever remain crucial – whether that be face-to-face or digital. Resilient BDMs need to be adaptable, and have the desire and capability to support and grow advisers’ businesses.
Looking forward, TAL will continue to support advisers by focusing more on retention and service, alongside education, marketing, and the continued transition to digital advice.
By BDMs being targeted with their offerings to advisers and building a partnership that goes beyond product, they can help advisers deliver solutions and business advice that will add bottom line value to their practice.
David Mounsey, head of retail sales, TAL.
(1) Business Health, When the going gets tough – Insights into BDM engagement with Advisers during COVID19.
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