The Responsive Advisor

Financial advisors have ridden the wave of Baby Boomer wealth accumulation for decades, but their clients are now drawing down assets in retirement, and advisors are turning to the next generation of investors. Change is afoot. Generation X is more tech savvy than their parents, and Gen Y was basically raised by modern technology; both expect great results and amazing customer service or they'll just handle their finances themselves. A new breed of Gen Y financial advisor has arrived, and they've traded in cuff links for smart watches, BMWs for electric cars, and first impressions for constant impressions. Competition is also coming in new forms, with 2015 ushering in the Rise of the Machine as robo-advice grabs hold of the mainstream with low-cost investment advice. Whether novice or experienced, advisors need to respond to this changing landscape to position themselves for success.

The Responsive Advisor uses technology to unlock productivity away from the office, provide great customer service from wherever they are, and modernize their message to connect with younger clients.

  • The PC is no longer a huge black box, but a sleek widescreen monitor with camera and microphone that facilitates easy recording of webcasts to spice up email communication and blogs. Video chat capability allows advisors to regularly connect with clients who prefer to see them without the inconvenience of an in-person appointment, while also unlocking the business opportunity of expanding to out-of-state clients.

  • The Smartphone is no longer just for email, but a powerful palm-sized computer that serves as the central hub for managing client contact information and communication, a way to check social media accounts that are helping to build personal brand, and for catching up on breaking financial news and market performance.

  • The Tablet, particularly iPads, have taken the industry by storm.* The early suite of productivity apps for document creation and storage, client presentations, and note taking only scratch the surface. Responsive advisors will use their tablet for video conferencing, capturing electronic signatures, video editing, and much more. The financial service industry is quickly building dedicated applications to arm advisors with tools to suit their business, including access to robust portfolio analytics and interactive client reports.

You can either be responsive to changing client needs by leveraging technology to modernize your approach, or you can be left behind as your clients and competition move in a different direction. The choice is clear; get moving!

*According to Financial Planning's Tech Survey 2014, 66% of advisors use a tablet for business, with 77.7% of them using iPads.

This post is part of a concept I'm refining as a small part of an upcoming general session presentation at the 2015 T3 Conference - Advisor Edition on February 13th in Dallas. I'd appreciate your feedback on how this resonates, additional ideas for the Responsive Advisor, or any other suggestions. Go ahead, leave a comment, like the post, and feel free to share! ---Mike

Mike Barad is the head of Product Components & Services for Morningstar. He leads an interdisciplinary product development organization that provides shared services, components, and mobile application development across Morningstar’s software products.

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