In my 26 years coaching financial advisers, I have witnessed tremendous change in our profession. One thing I know for sure: crisis always creates opportunities.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s the fact that you can, in fact, grow your business virtually. The idea of location independence is now a reality. I have several clients who are exploring the idea of not renewing their lease, moving to a low-cost state, and running their business virtually. The other possibility is now the adviser can source talent basically from anywhere.
Take Andy, a client of mine for over 25 years, who in March was living in New Jersey and had to close his office due to the pandemic. His entire team began working remotely. Fast forward several months and they’re still working remotely. Nobody has set foot in the office since March, and Andy made the decision to continue to grow his business virtually. One of the team members moved back to Texas. And, right now, Andy works out of the Jersey Shore, but recently sold his primary residence, and bought a place in Florida. He is now committed to working his operation remotely.
Even with everything going on over the past few months, Andy continues to grow his practice and is having his best year ever. He is even looking for another junior adviser and can now consider adding talent from wherever those people live, anywhere in the United States, including places with a lower cost of living. This opens up the talent pool available to him. I have several clients who source talent from Canada and use the exchange rate to their advantage.
I really do believe there will be a trend in our industry where forward-thinking advisers ask themselves these important questions: Do I need a physical footprint? If so, how small can I go, and how much freedom and flexibility can I give my team?
Gone are the days of endless networking and expensive dinner seminars to attract clients – although I have heard of some advisers who are having success getting clients and prospects to attend in-person meetings and events, especially if they are also following the CDC guidelines. Virtual happy hours, cooking lessons, educational and mindfulness events have become the norm and proven quite successful in showing client appreciation as well generating new leads.
Clients tend to reward financial advisers who go the extra mile and, as the old saying goes, never let a good crisis go to waste. In a recent survey conducted by Impact Communications, 342 weighed in. Those who had more meaningful conversations with clients and showed how much they cared for their clients, have experienced growth, even in the midst of the Covid Crisis.
Due to the factors above, clients can now find and work with an adviser who has a specialty in their situation or career. I know advisers who focus on medical professionals, tech executives, first responders, or government employees, just to name a few. The client gets a more focused, richer experience by hiring a specialist to be their adviser. Since the adviser can be anywhere, there is no disruption in the relationship if the client moves.
For broker/dealers and custodians, it’s an ever-fast-paced race to create a platform that will serve this new adviser/client dynamic. Firms must innovate and invest in robust tech and marketing platforms. The firms that get there first will have a profound competitive advantage. If they do not, they will just shrink over the next decade. Advisers who in the past may have overlooked the firm’s tech shortfalls and digital marketing rules, were forced to work and serve their clients remotely and any deficiencies – and overly restrictive rules – took center stage.
Bottom line: The tech stack must now be world class. Compliance is going to have to look at and come up with innovative guidelines that allow their advisers to operate in a 100% digital environment. If not, why should an adviser stay associated with that organization?
I know several advisers who are rethinking their relationships with firms, not because of payout, but because their virtual efforts are being stifled. So what now is the value proposition moving forward for the wirehouses given that most of their advisers could not access their offices and team members during the lockdowns?
If major firms don’t pivot and find a way to give their advisers freedom and flexibility to continue to work from home irrespective of the pandemic, who bears that cost? The adviser and the client. They pay for that brick and mortar. They pay for the layers of management.
The next five years are going to be about disrupting the status quo. There will be breathtaking innovation and creativity. Forward-thinking advisers who are willing to get uncomfortable by thinking and acting outside the box will have the ability to create their ideal lives, their ideal practice, serving their ideal clients.
Joe Lukacs, founder of the Magellan Mastermind and Network, has shown financial advisors how to master the game of life for over 26 years. Learn more about Joe’s strategic planning workshop at www.fabizplan.com.
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