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    As the COVID-19 pandemic surged throughout 2021, financial advisors had to evolve their traditional business practices to stay afloat—and even grow. In an industry that is dependent on fostering strong relationships with clients, the inability to actually meet face-to-face with individuals meant financial advisors had to adapt in more ways than one.

    The silver lining to all of this? The pandemic pushed financial advisory firms to accelerate their adoption of technology, embrace innovative tools, and identify resources that enabled seamless communication and satisfactory client experiences. 

    As a result, financial advisors have been able to deliver streamlined services and solutions for their clients quickly and efficiently, all while strengthening the personal connections that serve as the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship.

    Let’s take a look back at 2021 and consider the ways financial advisors were able to survive and thrive through the unprecedented challenges thrown their way and enable their practice to provide top-tier guidance for their clients.

    #1: Outsourcing Investment Management Enables Better Client Relationships

    Providing tailored expertise and guidance to your clients is likely something you take pride in. But trying to be a jack of all trades for each and every client will likely impede your ability to actually provide personalized support. 

    If you really want to assist your clients in reaching their individual financial goals, then you’ll need to make the time to do so. Outsourcing investment management may be your best opportunity to create the time needed to enhance the client experience. By doing so, you’ll be able to offload the tedious work that comes with conducting investment research, building portfolios, and continually monitoring performance. Instead, you can spend more time providing expert, tailor-made guidance on wealth management.

    Bringing back valuable time and money to your firm is just one of the benefits that come with outsourcing investment management. To learn about the others, check out this post.

    How Outsourced Investment Management Can Improve Your Practice

    #2: Discuss More Than Just Finances with Your Clients

    If you think keeping conversations with clients focused purely on their portfolios is in everyone’s best interests, think again. The truth is that financial wellbeing is directly tied to an individual’s aspirations and goals in life

    Knowing what’s happening with family members, how they feel about the current political climate, and discussing major life transitions are all subjects that you should feel comfortable raising with your clients. Getting to know your clients on a personal level not only enables you to better serve them, but it also works to build trust and engagement that could lead to more referrals for your firm down the road.

    If you’re looking for some other myths about communicating with your clients that you should ignore, then we’ve got a blog post you should definitely review.

    Busting 3 Myths about Financial Advisor Client Communication

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    #3: Make Financial Planning a Priority for Your Firm

    We know what you’re thinking—time is a precious commodity for any firm, so why focus on financial planning when it doesn’t generate revenue? In truth, understanding the financial wellness and long-term goals of your clients can actually bolster your bottom line in the long run

    Building a financial plan for your clients isn’t just a roadmap to their long-term financial well-being; it’s a roadmap to their long-term relationship with you. Demonstrate to clients that helping them accomplish their major financial milestones is a high priority to your firm, and you’ll find that they’ll be more eager to refer you to friends and family in need of personalized financial advice.

    Financial planning isn’t the only way your firm can diversify its offerings. To learn more, check out this post.

    How Financial Advisors Can Diversify Their Offering

    #4: Stop Relying on Emails & Notepads

    Adapting to technological change in the modern financial services industry is critical if your firm wants to enable better client experiences and ensure its own long-term growth. But some financial advisors believe that their emails to clients serve as a customer relationship management (CRM) software and their notepads are an effective asset management tool. Unfortunately, these advisors quickly find themselves overwhelmed with client and asset management.

    Needless to say, advisors that ignore the need to adapt will end up serving a smaller client base and providing a subpar experience. As the industry becomes increasingly powered by digital systems and tools, so too should your financial advisory firm.

    Learn how an end-to-end asset management software can actually help you provide more personalized client experiences by reading this post.

    How an End-to-End Asset Management Software Helps Advisors Focus on Their Clients

    #5: Consider the Drawbacks of an External Sale Post-Retirement

    If you’ve been following all the practices we’ve recommended thus far, then you might find yourself faced with one of the better problems to have: How should you transition out of your successful practice when the time is right?

    When building out your succession plan, you’ll likely decide between an internal transition or an external sale. While an external sale requires less planning (and maybe less drama) on your end, it also leads to relinquished control over the transition in addition to a lack of confidence from clients and employees who may have concerns about the new buyer and business model. 

    An external sale might make sense for some firms, but consider cultivating talent at your firm so that when it’s time for senior leadership to step away, the next generation will be at the ready.

    If you haven’t thought about building your own succession plan, the time is now to figure out what the future of your firm will look like. Fortunately, we’ve written a blog post that covers this topic in detail.

    The Benefits of Succession Planning for Financial Advisors

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    #6: Embrace Fee-Based Advising to Foster Long-Term Client Relationships

    If you’ve mostly served clients with commissionable products and services in the past, then you might be worried that you’ll lose some clients if you switch to fee-based advising. But fee-based advising will ultimately build up a client base that is committed to working with you for the long haul, and isn’t just there to buy a one-off financial product. Consider adopting a fee-based advisory services model if you want to deepen your relationships with clients and expand the services you’re able to offer.

    If the time is right to make the switch, check out this post to learn what you should keep in mind throughout the process.

    The Shift to Fee-Based Advising—Key Factors to Consider

    #7: Clearly Communicate Your Fee Structure to Clients

    The satisfaction of your clients is closely tied with their knowledge and understanding of how you operate. In the past, clients may not have paid too much attention to your advisor fees, trusting that you wouldn’t be overcharging them. But inherent trust in businesses has dwindled in recent years, and clients now know to think about their advisor’s fees when they enter into an engagement.

    To avoid any misunderstandings on what you provide—and how much it costs—clearly communicate your fee structure to clients from the onset of your relationship. Your firm will have an easier time justifying your fees and retaining clients if you’re clearly explaining your fee structure to individuals early on.

    Learn how to be a successful financial advisor and better satisfy your fee-aware clients by reading this post.

    Fee-Aware Clients: What Financial Advisors Need to Keep in Mind

    #8: Work to Connect with the New Generation of Investors

    With the post-pandemic stock market boom came a wave of new, younger investors that are eager to learn more about the space. Today, most of your prospective clients are likely living and working digitally, and engaging with your audience on the platforms they’re most frequently using is critical to keeping your firm on the up and up. Creating a digital marketing plan and delivering educational content are two great ways to connect with the younger generation of investors and diversify your current client base.

    For more tips on improving your virtual prospecting in today’s world, check out this post.

    Prospecting in the New Virtual Age

    Prospecting in the Virtual Age

    #9: Define Your Ideal Clients

    Differentiating your practice from competitors means considering the types of clients you should be focusing on, both in the short term and long term. Are your services and expertise more geared towards small businesses or startups? Maybe you’re keen on becoming a leader in managing the unique challenges retirees face with their assets? 

    Consider what specific client profile will most benefit from your particular services, expertise, and advisory knowledge. From there, you can work to fine-tune your specialty services and establish yourself as an expert on the issues and goals your audience cares about the most.

    If you’re looking for guidance on how to do this strategically, you’re in luck; we’ve written a blog dedicated to just that.

    How to Strategically Specialize and Differentiate Your Practice

    #10: Don’t Say ‘Yes’ to Any and All Investors

    Having investors come to you for wealth management advice is a good feeling, but agreeing to work with everyone who comes your way can stretch your practice thin and result in subpar services. The more clients you work with, the less time you’re able to devote to each individual client and provide a truly personalized financial advisory experience. 

    As we mentioned above, working to establish ideal client profiles can not only help you find your niche audience, but it can also help you avoid becoming overloaded with clients who aren’t good fits in the first place.

    Instead of focusing first on acquiring more and more clients, make the client experience a top priority for your practice. Want to learn why and how? Read our blog post on the topic.

    Why the Client Experience Should Be Your Top Priority

    #11: Watch Out For Client Concerns

    A big part of bolstering the client experience is actively listening to their feedback and acting on it. On a continual basis, your practice should be keeping an eye out for complaints, questions, and concerns that are coming in from your clients (or prospective clients). A steady stream of complaints coming in is a clear sign that client satisfaction is something your practice needs to prioritize going forward. Ideally, you can prevent dissatisfaction early before it manifests as complaints. Look towards turnover rates, net promoter surveys, and general engagement levels with your clients in order to catch dissatisfaction early on before it becomes a serious issue. 

    Client dissatisfaction isn’t the only thing many financial advisors are struggling with. Learn more about the other blind spots to look out for in this post.

    What Is the Independent Advisor's Biggest Blind Spot?

    #12: Ease Nerves Around the Latest Headlines & Global Events

    2021 was a rollercoaster of a year, with breaking news and developing stories coming out on a seemingly daily basis. You likely saw many clients react strongly to the latest news headlines and global events, and they may have even asked to adjust their portfolio and financial plan depending on the news of the day. 

    If your firm has had trouble convincing clients to not abandon sound investing principles in response to breaking news, make an effort to nail down your talking points surrounding client portfolio decisions and why their current investments are critical to moving them towards their financial milestones.

    Responding to clients’ reactions to the latest headlines isn’t the only challenge that comes with managing portfolios. Learn some of the other common portfolio construction issues financial advisors face (and how to solve them) by checking out this post.

    Top 4 Portfolio Construction Challenges and How to Solve Them

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    #13: Prioritize Your Wishlist with a Business Plan

    It’s an exciting time for financial advisors, with technologies and tools evolving at a rapid pace. You likely have a lot of great ideas about how your practice can thrive in the modern financial advisory space, but turning ideas into action is easier said than done. If you feel like your practice wishlist is growing long, a well-defined business plan can help you prioritize your objectives and keep you moving in the right direction.

    Learn how a solid business plan can help you be the best financial advisor possible in the post below.

    Gaining an Edge: 5 Key Elements to a Financial Advisor's Business Plan

    #14: Avoid Yo-Yo Marketing

    If you’re like most financial advisors, you’re in this business because you enjoy working directly with clients and helping them reach their financial goals. However, keeping your business needs top of mind is critical if you want to ensure the long-term growth and success of your company

    For this reason, you should steer clear of switching back and forth between rigorous marketing efforts and complete devotion to client outcomes—otherwise known as yo-yo marketing. Instead, adopt a more cohesive business approach that enables you to keep up with business demand while still tending to the needs of your valued clients.

    To learn more about how to be a successful financial advisor and grow your practice, check out this post.

    How to Grow Your Financial Advisory Business

    #15: Offer Estate Planning to Safeguard Your Clients’ Financial Future

    No one likes to think about it, but you owe it to your clients to consider how their wealth will be distributed to family members and communities after their eventual passing. Estate planning gives your clients peace of mind knowing their financial ducks are in a row, and it also enables you to retain assets under management with your clients’ family members. Simply put, estate planning is both smart business and the right thing to do.

    We discuss some essential guidance for how financial advisors can navigate this sensitive topic with their clients and clients’ families in this blog post.

    Estate Financial Planning: Preparing Clients and Their Families

    #16: See Relationship Marketing as Your Practice’s Best Friend

    Even if you’re not familiar with relationship marketing, chances are your practice is already engaged in it. In short, relationship marketing works to build customer loyalty, satisfaction, and lifetime value by prioritizing the client experience and providing exceptional service time and again. When executed properly, relationship marketing moves you away from short-term leads and campaign-reliant demand and instead provides you with a valuable source of referrals and bolstered lifetime value.

    Even though it’s a very natural form of marketing to undertake, there is still a lot to consider when executing relationship marketing strategically. Read our blog to find out what tactics you should deploy for effective relationship marketing.

    Wondering How to Get Clients as a Financial Advisor?

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    #17: Be Patient with Your High-Net-Worth Clients

    About 13% of financial advisor clients fall under the umbrella of high net worth, and because they bring a lot of value to your practice, it’s important to know how to effectively work with them. 

    For starters, be patient as you onboard wealthy clients. They likely have more assets to keep track of and a more diverse portfolio to manage. It’ll take time to get a clear sense of your wealthy clients’ full range of assets, but taking the time that is needed to gain insights into their portfolio is much better than rushing decisions that can’t be sufficiently backed up.

    If you haven’t managed too many high-net-worth clients in the past, check out this post to learn how you can keep them around for the long haul.

    5 Keys to Managing High-Net-Worth Clients

    Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon

    Just as financial advisors learned to adapt on the fly and embrace change throughout 2021, the industry as a whole can be expected to continually evolve. Modern advisors will need to pay attention to trends and innovate if they want to keep up with the twists and turns that the future holds.

    At AssetMark, we’re looking forward to what 2022 has in store, and we look forward to serving financial advisors in the upcoming year. If you have any questions about our range of services and solutions and how we can serve you, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

     

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    AssetMark is a leading provider of extensive wealth management and technology solutions that help financial advisors meet the ever-changing needs of their clients and businesses.


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