Four future-proofing strategies for financial advisors

Technology advancements, a stricter regulatory environment and a savvier consumer are forcing financial advisors to adapt ­their business practices – fast.

The successful financial advisor of the future will be a whole new breed of professional – a team player that is integrally connected to their clients’ financial lives, leverages technology to work flexibly and has systems and processes in place to ensure their clients’ interests are always paramount.

While many of these trends are already emerging in the marketplace, successful advisory practices will increasingly differentiate themselves from the rest with these four strategies.

1. Be less transactional and more of a holistic service provider.

As digital technology automates more aspects of financial transactions, the role of the advisor needs to change too. Instead of brokering transactions (making investments, purchasing insurance, etc.) between clients and financial product companies, advisors of the future will focus on leveraging their client relationships by providing a broader range of services and a richer client experience.

For younger Millennial clients, who are often less experienced investors, the advisor of the future will provide basic financial help, be responsive to questions, and offer quick and immediate attention (via online/digital communications), while providing full transparency with respect to access to information and fees. The nature of the advice will also expand – for instance, the advisor of the future might even help a client pursue a salary negotiation or an asset purchase.

For older affluent clients, the advisor of the future will deliver a higher level of personal service – even taking on the role of financial concierge. Getting to know the client’s spouse and children, all of who will be expected to be involved in the planning process, will help the advisor of the future make the transfer of wealth to the next generation an easier, more streamlined process – and one in which they continue to play a meaningful advisory role.

2. Build a professional dream team to serve clients.

Adopting a team approach to managing more of a client’s financial life is becoming common practice.

Smart advisors surround themselves with multiple professionals specializing in investing, wealth management, insurance or debt management, as well as other professionals such as lawyers, accountants and business consultants, to ensure that their clients get access to the knowledge they need to manage the full spectrum of their financial and business lives.

The advisor of the future will strive to play the role of quarterback for their clients, facilitating coordination and cooperation among the various advisors that are already part of their client’s team. 

3. Maintain a virtual office so you can go to your clients.

Future-looking advisors will strive to free themselves of the confines of the traditional bricks and mortar office and will leverage digital technology to virtualize their workspace. They will serve their clients wherever the client prefers: at their home or office, via video conferencing, using secure online channels or even at the coffee shop.

This begins with active engagement with prospects, clients and peers through effective use of online social networks to nurture their most valuable business relationships.

But it extends to the digital systems advisors use to manage their businesses, eg., back-office transactional systems, client management and marketing systems, secure access to and storage of their clients’ data, etc. Increasingly, these systems will increasingly reside in the Internet cloud and be accessed securely by mobile apps, tablets and notebook computers, so that advisors AND clients can have access to the data they need whenever and wherever they need it.

Embracing a new generation of financial technology, the future advisor will provide clients with a single online point of access to all products and services, including full-serve and self-serve options based on the customer’s preference.

4. Develop practice around core values of regulatory compliance and fiduciary advice.

Contrary to some popular media commentary, the growth of low-fee, automated investment services, such as robo-advisors, will actually help successful human advisors of the future to differentiate their practices by offering personalized financial life planning and support. In fact, the more direct-to-consumer offerings that become available, the greater the need and opportunity for advisors to provide value-added, customized advice to help clients define and implement their financial life plans.

These advisors of the future will adopt the use of technology systems and business processes that ensure they meet and exceed regulatory compliance requirements while demonstrably acting in the fiduciary interest of their clients.

With so much changing in how financial services are delivered to the marketplace, there’s one thing that will remain constant: When people need help with money and key life decisions, they will always seek out someone whose knowledge and character they trust.

The financial advisor of the future will strive to be that trusted life advisor.