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In a world that is rapidly changing and becoming more insecure than ever, the financial advisory industry has a great opportunity to become a beacon of trust for investors by helping them navigate difficult life and financial decisions.
The Covid-19 pandemic, combined with the social and economic changes in recent years, has impacted every aspect of life and changed consumer business expectations. In fact, companies are now more trusted than the government, and according to the latest Edelman confidence poll.
In addition, the pandemic led to a serious assessment of life priorities, which resulted in many changing careers, relocating, giving up corporate life altogether, or opting for early retirement.
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In many ways, these critical life changes combined with the increased uncertainty and volatility of the economic environment have created renewed need for financial advice.
The financial advisor business is booming as new clients flock in seeking not only financial advice but a trusted advisor to make important life decisions. The opportunity for the financial services industry to regain the trust it lost during the financial crisis and to establish the financial advisor profession both as a valuable source of information and guidance for investors and as a career choice for future generations has never been greater.
However, to take advantage of this opportunity to build long-term trust, companies must now take conscious steps to deepen customer relationships, guide them in the most important life decisions and help them build a financially secure future.
Here are five things consulting firms can do right now to make this happen:
- Offer more than just financial advice. Wealth management is no longer just about finances; It’s about helping customers make informed life decisions – especially now with millions of jobs switching during what is known as the “Great Resignation.” In many ways, counselors need to act as life coaches, guiding clients through critical life decisions as they navigate a highly complex world. We are increasingly seeing consultants considering adding psychologists or life coaches to their staff to help clients make these difficult decisions. By being able to speak more than dollars and cents, consultants not only add value, but also show that they really care about their customers.
- Build intergenerational relationships. To keep the business long-term, consultants should expand their relationships beyond the main client. Consider planning and attending family reunions to become even more successful with the whole family, especially the next generation of investors and prospects. By focusing on the ongoing dynamics of all members of a client’s inner circle, advisors can create actionable and effective asset management roadmaps. These relationships are now all the more possible to build now that many young adults live at home with their parents.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. It is vital to be visible to customers and prospects with the right message at the right time. Successful consultants take an omni-channel approach that uses both traditional and digital channels to communicate with customers. Regular check-in emails and occasional text messages with useful information, as well as ongoing engagement on social media to meet customers where they are and better understand their concerns and lifestyle, are critical to providing more targeted, meaningful advice .
- Become a destination for the entire wealth journey. Consultants should offer solutions that are tailored to the needs of clients in every phase of life. Help early-stage investors starting their careers or who have recently changed their career path by using digital tools, free budgeting and benchmarking solutions so you can build long-term relationships and guide them throughout the wealth journey. Offer high net worth clients solutions that will help them protect and transfer their wealth by giving them access to other business specialists in their “area”.
- Be a client advocate. Consultants should take every day as an opportunity to show their clients that they are always paying attention to their interests. For fiduciary advisors, this may seem like an obvious point. However, your legal structure means little to customers unless they feel like you care about their wellbeing. Ask your clients the additional questions, get to know them inside out, understand their life, family, and career concerns, and be their best advocate throughout their lives.
And perhaps most importantly, remember that it takes years to build trust and seconds to break. Treat each customer relationship with the care, respect, and attention it deserves: everyone. Singles. Day.
– By Ben Harrison, Co-Head of Wealth Solutions at BNY Mellon Pershing