Last week, I shared with you just how significant advisors’ roles are changing. The results of our survey of 652 advisors in the United States and Canada say everything: the change is palpable. The question firms should be asking themselves now is: Is my firm equipped to support my advisors? And, if not, what can I do to help my advisors succeed?
It’s clear that clients will become increasingly engaged in their own wealth management decisions, increasingly independent and will continue to question the value of the advisory and transaction services provided by wealth managers. Wealth management firms are in a unique position to attract new assets through intergenerational wealth transfer and the shifts of funds that follow inheritances—$41 trillion is up for grabs. So, what’s a firm to do?
Five things to support advisors and their clients
To retain and grow existing assets, firms should consider five key principles:
- Recognize that not all clients are alike. There are significant differences between younger and older advisors and investors. Firms should provide their younger advisors with access to digital tools designed to improve and monitor performance. When it comes to investors, self-service options could be a great option.
- Equip advisors with the full digital toolkit. Clients have come to expect access to digital tools, including communication through social media. Firms will need to provide their advisors, and in turn, their advisors’ clients with self-directed portfolio management tools.
- Advisors and clients should plan together. Tools for performance monitoring and analytics for performance improvement will be key to retaining clients.
- Provide proactive, structured succession and inheritance training programs. Firms should provide mandatory training and guidance in how to transfer accounts when an advisor retires or leaves the firm, and in how to work both with clients and their prospective heirs to increase the likelihood that the heir will remain a client after the assets transfer from one generation to the next.
- Evaluate the skills, talent and training needed to be a good financial advisor. Firms should be investing in analytics and other tools needed to determine the characteristics of successful financial advisors in this new environment, and then undertake the recruiting, training and performance management initiatives to create this new model.
The question for wealth management firms going forward will be how to find, train and motivate the right people to meet rapidly changing customer expectations. Providing financial advisors with the right technology—as well as the right structure, compensation and products—will be another essential element for success.
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